Nov 01, 2013 01:54 PM EDT By Staff Reporter
Germany is leading the way in allowing a newborn baby to be considered neither a boy nor a girl until they decide what gender they want to be.
Germany has become the first country to pass the new legislation which will allow parents to leave the gender section empty when filling out the baby's birth certificate. However, activists promoting the rights of so-called "intersex" people or the "third gender" said they hoped the move would open the door to broader changes limiting genital surgery on newborns with both male and female characteristics.
Like Us on Facebook
The German Ethics Council, an advisory group, had urged the change to take the pressure off parents to make a hasty decision and possibly commit to surgery immediately after birth, the dpa news agency reported.
"It's a first, important step in the right direction," Lucie Veith, an intersex person from the northern German city of Hamburg, told AFP.
The new intersex law is intended to remove pressure on parents to quickly make a decision about controversial sex assignment surgeries for newborns, but many advocates say it does not go far enough.
"The surgeries are likely to continue in Germany," said Silvan Agius, policy director at ILGA Europe, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights group.
"Parents can already refuse these surgeries," Agius added. "You can already say, 'No, thank you very much, I don't want any surgery until my child can choose his or her gender.'"
"We want people to be left alone, especially when they can't even express themselves because they are so young," said Andrea Budzinski, president of the German Transgender and Intersex Society. "We have to ensure that no more babies and young children are subject to sex changes.