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Sex changes and Islamic law

An Egyptian transsexual has won the right to equally divide the inheritance of her millionaire father with her brother in an unprecedented court case in Egypt, a government daily reported on 11 May.

The millionaire had left to his children initially two boys a huge fortune upon his death which under Islamic law was to be divided equally.

But after his death one of the boys had a sex-change operation, prompting the brother to file suit asking that his "sister" get only one third of the inheritance in line with Islamic law, Al Akhbar newspaper said.

A court in the northern city of Alexandria dismissed the suit and said both would get an equal share of the fortune since the sex operation was undertaken after the father's death.

The head of Al Azhar, the highest Sunni Muslim authority, in June 1996 issued a religious decree saying that a transsexual who had not changed sex before his parents' death inherits like a man.

There have been dozens of sex-change operations in Egypt over the past 10 years but this was the "strangest case" to hit the courts, according to the daily.