LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Shock in Poland as gender recognition act falls

Poland’s Gender Accordance Act will not come into force, following the unexpected failure of a parliamentary committee to prepare a report required in advance of today’s planned vote (Friday, 9 October).

This means that Poland will not have a legal gender recognition process defined in legislation. ILGA-Europe send our sympathy the trans community in Poland, the committed activists and LGBTI organisations who had guided this historic law through the lengthy legislative procedure to this point. 

“This Act was not just about codifying an unwritten procedure. It was an opportunity for Poland’s parliamentarians to reaffirm their commitment to equality. The law had been supported by both houses of parliament only weeks ago. But now, those same elected representatives have backtracked on the chance to give trans people in Poland greater dignity. To have their hopes thwarted at the final legislative hurdle is incredibly frustrating.” commented ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis.

The Gender Accordance Act aimed to give trans people in Poland greater clarity and protection. The uncodified legal gender recognition process requires people to endure stressful court proceedings and lengthy waiting times for any decision. 

The president had vetoed the Act one week earlier, a source of great disappointment to many organisations dedicated to trans issues. More than 2000 people signed an online petition in 24 hours, calling on their elected representatives to save the law.

“The voices of trans people and all those who supported the law have been blatantly ignored by Poland’s politicians. Human rights are not a bargaining chip. We are very concerned that trans people in Poland have been used as a pawn in a depressing game of pre-election political point-scoring.” continued Evelyne Paradis.

The Gender Accordance Act was expected to return to Poland’s lower house of parliament, the Sejm. In order to override a presidential veto, at least 50% of all members of parliament must be present in the chamber and 3/5 of those MP’s must vote in favour of the Act. However, because of the failure of the parliamentary committee to produce the necessary report in advance, the vote planned for noon today could not take place. Now the legislative process ends and the Act will not come into force.