| Transsexual Elizabeth Bellinger outside the House of Lords . (Reuters)
London, April 10 (Reuters): Transsexuals across Britain have been thrown into legal limbo after law lords refused to recognise the 22-year marriage of Elizabeth Bellinger, who was once a man.
Bellinger said today she might now take her case to the European courts to reverse the decision. The British government is one of only four in Europe that still refuses to recognise sex changes. The others are Ireland, Albania and Andorra.
The five law lords refused to recognise her marriage to “husband” Michael, delighting some church groups and upsetting transsexual rights campaigners.
Many of the country’s 5,000 transsexuals had expected them to fudge the case after the government said in December it was looking for a way to give them the right to marry.
Bellinger, who was at the House of Lords to hear the decision, branded the law that prevents her marrying legally as “spiteful”. “I am disgusted,” she said. “But I expected it. I did not think I would ever get a fair trial in this country. Now I fear I am left with no choice other than to seek redress in the European courts.”
Britain was cautioned by the European Court of Human Rights last year for violating the rights of transsexual former truck driver Christine Goodwin.
Bellinger, 55, has lived as a woman for 32 years, but met “husband” Michael in 1980 prior to having her male genitals removed. In her previous marriage — as a man — she fathered children who have now grown up and are themselves married.
The High Court and the Appeal Court had already rejected the couple’s plea for legal recognition. Dismissing Bellinger’s plea today, Lord Nicholls said it was not for the courts to change the law. “A change in the law as sought by Bellinger must be a matter for deliberation and decision by Parliament,” he said.
Transsexual rights group the Gender Trust said: “We urge the government to remedy this highly unsatisfactory situation by pushing ahead with their proposed legislative changes.”
The Evangelical Alliance expressed sympathy for the Bellingers. “But you cannot change sex,” said spokesman Don Horrocks. “There are problems for society when science and technology can create the illusion of changing sex.”