Computer Says No: Enforcing divorce upon persons who changed their sex in Europe and South Africa


  • Lize Mills



As is the case with marriage, divorce should be entered into freely and voluntarily. The State should not demand that a marriage be ended if neither one of the spouses wishes for it to be terminated. Yet, several countries still impose such an obligation in instances where one or both of the parties to the marriage changed their sex during the existence of the marriage, in order for such a person to attain legal recognition of the sex change. This article analyses some of the case law in Europe and South Africa where the courts have had to intercede in instances in which differential treatment was being justified in the name of so-called pragmatism. It examines some of the possible reasons for imposing this obligation upon married couples and the effect that this requirement has on their lives. Furthermore, it explores why it is incorrect to require the termination of marriage after a change of sex, how genderism and transphobia has caused differential and discriminatory treatment of transsexual persons, and how institutional bias and a lack of appreciation for the lived reality of people who do not necessarily fit into categories of generated systems, continue to negate the human rights of some humans.


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