Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
11.07.2002

Facts

The applicant, Ms Goodwin, was male-to-female transsexual. She had undergone medical treatment and enjoyed a full physical relationship with a man.

Complaint

The applicant complained that she and her partner could not marry because the law treated her as a man, and that violated the Article 12 of the Convention.

Court's ruling

The Court emphasized that States enjoy certain margin of appreciation in the matter of marriage regulation. Although the Article 12 states that "men and women (..) have the right to marry", the Court pointed out that nowadays the gender must not be determined by purely biological criteria. As in the present case Ms Goodwin lives as a woman, is in a relationship with a man and would only wish to marry a man, but was precluded from marrying the person of her opposite sex, she could therefore claim that the very essence of her right to marry has been infringed. Consequently the Court ruled that the state has not acted within the allowed margin of expression and has violated Article 12 of the Convention.