GERMANY’S highest court has decided that people must be allowed to be entered in official records as neither male nor female, ruling that authorities should either create a third identity or scrap gender entries altogether.

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled in the case of a person who had applied to have their entry in the birth register changed from “female” to “inter/diverse” or “diverse”.

Officials rejected this on the grounds the law only lets children to be registered as male or female, or for the gender to be left blank.

The plaintiff, whose name was not released, argued that this was a violation of their personal rights.

The court found that the law protects sexual identity, which has a “key position” in how individuals perceive themselves and are perceived by others.

It said that “the sexual identity of those people who can be assigned neither to the male nor the female sex is also protected”, and said the constitution also protects them against discrimination because of their gender.

The German government has until the end of 2018 to make new rules.

The court said authorities have two ways to ensure that the rules comply with the constitution. It said that they could decide to do without any gender entry in civil registers — but “can also create the possibility for the affected people to choose another positive designation of their sex that is not male or female”.