The Polish Senate has voted to pass the Gender Accordance Act after a lengthy debate which lasted several days.
However, the Act was passed with significant last-minute amendments which unfortunately could add another layer of procedural difficulty to the gender recognition process.
The Gender Accordance Act is an attempt to codify the legal gender recognition process for the first time. Previously, trans people in Poland had to go through a series of court proceedings – a confusing and stressful process – and endure lengthy waiting times for decisions. Now anyone applying for legal gender recognition will have to fulfil three criteria: they must be a Polish citizen; unmarried and present two supporting medical opinions for assessment by a regional court.
As a result of today’s additional amendments, a sexologist and psychologist would have to be present in court. The amendment added today also states that a paediatric psychologist should be present in court if anyone applying for legal gender recognition already has children.
The amended version of the Act now returns to the parliamentary committee that previously examined the bill. This parliamentary committee will analyse the changes proposed by the Senate and may approve or reject them. It is envisaged that the committee will meet in September.
The Act is a step in the right direction but will need to be built upon, to address concerns around forced divorce, a lack of self-determination and the exclusion of non-Polish citizens. This is not the end of the process; ILGA-Europe hope that the upcoming committee discussions on the amendment are constructive and efficient.
“This law is about codifying, simplifying and rectifying”, said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis, speaking after the vote today.
“By codifying gender recognition for the first time, I hope it sends out a strong message in Poland that trans peoples’ dignity is valued by the state. By trying to simplify the process in the original draft, Poland was moving away from pathologising trans people’s bodies and that is to be encouraged.
“But there are still many improvements that need to be made, especially after today’s disappointing amendments. We will stand with LGBTI activists in Poland to ensure that the outstanding issues are rectified. Poland still has an opportunity to take its place among the leading European gender recognition laws. There is still time to blaze a trail; we call on Poland’s politicians to take that chance.” commented Evelyne Paradis.
The National LGBT Rights Organization LGL welcomes and supports this positive signal from Poland.