Beyond Sexual Binaries? The German Federal Constitutional Court and the Rights of Intersex People

The German Federal Constitutional Court and the rights of intersexed people

  • Henk Botha University of Stellenbosch
Keywords: German Federal Constitutional Court, third gender judgment, intersex, transsexual and transgender, sex and gender identity, human dignity, equality and freedom, sexual minorities in South Africa


In a recent judgment, the German Federal Constitutional Court held that it was unconstitutional to require every person's sex to be entered on the birth register, without providing for a third option for intersex persons. This article examines the intersex judgment in view of the Court's earlier jurisprudence on the rights of trans persons. It argues that this judgment was enabled, to a significant extent, by the fluid understanding of sex and gender identity shown in those judgments, and by the elaboration in those cases of the relationship between sexual freedom, human dignity and equality. It also comments on the possible relevance of the intersex judgment for South Africa, in view of some of the parallels and differences between German and South African constitutional jurisprudence.



Author Biography

Henk Botha, University of Stellenbosch
BLC LLB (Pretoria) LLM (Columbia) LLD (Pretoria). Professor at the faculty of law, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Email:




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How to Cite
Botha, H. (2018). Beyond Sexual Binaries? The German Federal Constitutional Court and the Rights of Intersex People. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 21, 1-26.