Sisters For Change is launching a series of reports on behalf of the Equality & Justice Alliance. This report commissioned by Sisters For Change and authored by Peter Dunne and Stephen Clark provides a comparative legal review of gender recognition laws across the Commonwealth. The entitlement to legal gender recognition is an accepted norm of international human rights law. Yet the majority of Commonwealth countries – 38 in total – have no domestic gender recognition laws, with the result that many trans and non-binary persons live in positions of legal invisibility. This report outlines international and regional human rights standards for recognising gender identity and expression and provides a comparative analysis of legal gender recognition laws in seven Commonwealth countries – New Zealand, Malaysia, India, Namibia, South Africa, Guyana and Malta.
The report explores how these seven geographically diverse jurisdictions approach gender identity and analyses the different legislative models of recognising self-identified gender, from models of self determination (Malta) to surgery-focused requirements (Namibia), and from a broad spectrum of amendment orientated procedures (India) to a country without any gender recognition process (Guyana). The report concludes by drawing out broad themes from the country case studies and providing a set of practical general recommendations for legal reform. The report does not seek to identify one, optimal legal model for legal gender recognition and acknowledges that across the Commonwealth, gender transitions occur in a multiplicity of diverse contexts. The purpose of this report is to provide guidance to Commonwealth countries wishing to develop domestic gender recognition laws.