EU's top court to rule on Romania's refusal to accept transgender man's identity

Transgender rights activist waves a transgender flag
Transgender rights activist waves a transgender flag at a rally in Washington Square Park in New York, U.S., May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Demetrius Freeman

BUCHAREST, March 3 (Reuters) - The European Union's top court will hear a case brought by a British-Romanian transgender man against Romanian authorities over their refusal to recognize his gender identity, Romanian LGBTQ rights organisation ACCEPT said on Friday.

The case, which raises questions about free movement and citizenship rights under EU law, was first raised in a Romanian court in 2021 and has now been referred to the European Union Court of Justice.

Arian Mirzarafie-Ahi moved to the United Kingdom in 2008 and obtained his British citizenship in 2016, which is also when he began his transition, said ACCEPT Romania, which is helping him with his case.

UK authorities gave him a gender recognition certificate while the country was still part of the European Union. In 2021, Romanian authorities refused to acknowledge his name and gender change, demanding he follow the lengthy national procedure.

"Arian's ability to travel freely in the EU, like any EU citizen, has been unjustifiably restricted, including his ability to visit family members in Romania, because his Romanian passport displays the wrong identity," ACCEPT said.

The organisation said the case could set a precedent for other transgender people whose gender recognition is not being acknowledged elsewhere in the EU, harming their ability to travel freely, reside, work, study or even vote across the EU.

"The Court will also have the opportunity to confirm that the rights that EU citizens lawfully acquired in the UK when it was still treated as a member state ... are portable when those citizens wish to exercise their free movement rights."

In 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Romania violated the rights of two transgender people by refusing to recognise their identity because they had not undergone gender reassignment surgery.

Socially conservative Romania decriminalised homosexuality in 2001, decades later than other parts of the European Union, but bars marriage and civil partnerships for same sex couples.

A blanket ban on gender identity studies was struck down by Romania's Constitutional Court in 2020.

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Toby Chopra

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