Tech & Rights

Gender Recognition Is Still Unregulated in Poland

The president's veto of the draft law on gender recognition sent the bill back to the legislature for an override vote, but this never took place.

by Małgorzata Szuleka
The act was a missed opportunity to implement the rights of transgender people to protect their identity and dignity. (Image: torbakhopper - Flickr/CC content)
The Polish Parliament adopted in July the Gender Accordance Law, which aimed to facilitate the legal procedures of gender recognition. In September, however, the president decided to veto the bill.

After the president’s veto, the act was expected to return to Poland’s lower house of Parliament, the Sejm. In order to override a presidential veto, at least three-fifths of MPs must vote in favor of the act. The planned vote could not take place, however, because of the failure of the parliamentary committee to produce the necessary report in advance.

Because of this, Poland still has no legal regulations on gender recognition.

Specialists' opinions

The draft law provided that cases concerning gender recognition would be assessed by courts in non-contentious proceedings. An application for gender recognition would require the opinions of two specialists, which would prove that the person has a different gender identity than the one found on their birth certificate. The final decision of a court would entitle the person to obtain new identity documents and a new name.

"It was a good law, introducing standards and procedures which were missing in our legislation," said Dorota Pudzianowska, a lawyer with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR). "So far, the courts - due to the lack of regulation of this issue - were basing decisions on precedents and rulings of the Supreme Court."


The justification of the president’s veto has raised a lot of doubts among numerous NGOs, including HFHR. The official justification for the president's action argued that the bill wasn't well constructed:

"The law was full of loopholes and inconsistencies and conflicted with existing judicial practice. The solutions adopted by the Parliament allow, among other things, for multiple changes of registered gender under simplified procedures and do not require demonstrating stability of the feeling of belonging to a particular gender. The act also would have permitted marriages of persons of the same biological sex and adoption of children by such couples."

According to HFHR, however, the law contained clear regulations in these areas. The act pointed out that gender identity should be understood as a persistent and intense feeling and one should be able to determine their sexuality and gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex listed on the birth certificate.

Missed opportunity

Furthermore, under the proposed law, such a condition must be confirmed in two separate opinions of psychiatrists or sexologists. Additionally, determining whether a sense of belonging to a particular gender is persistent and strong enough constitutes an element of diagnosing people experiencing transsexualism.

The act was a missed opportunity to implement the rights of transgender people to protect their identity and dignity. Currently, nothing indicates that the draft law will soon return soon to the Parliament.

More information about gender recognition in Poland is available in the publication "Gender Recognition in Poland."

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