Here are some thoughts on the recent
gender recognition debates in the Polish Parliament
As you may guess,
especially if you’re coming from a country that is based on
democratic or semi-democratic principles, there is a lot of talk in
the Parliament. And given the fact that the word itself comes from
French parler which means “to
speak”, it most probably isn’t a surprise to you at all.
comes as a surprise though, is the fact that so many politicians
still cannot learn the golden rule of debate – “If you have
nothing to say about it, don’t pretend you’re an expert”.
probably remember my two last posts about the gender recognition
legislation in Poland. One was about why
Poland actually needs one and the other were just photos
of me and my friends crying with joy after the lower house of the
Polish Parliament decided to pass the proposal. So, here we are, a
week and half away from that amazing day, with a voting in the Senate
scheduled for tomorrow.
two important Committees decided to hold independent meetings to
discuss the gender recognition proposal and have their say about the
next steps. Since Poland is a two-step democracy (not counting the
President, who of course has a final say whether a law becomes a
law), after the lower house, Sejm, passed the law, it needed
to be passed by the Senate. If it is not passed by the Senate, it
goes back to the Sejm, but requires a 2/3 majority vote to bypass the
Senate and go straight to the President. At this point I cannot say
for sure, what can or will happen, all I can say is
that I really do not know why
we need a second house, if it works the way the Polish Senate
back to July 30th,
during a sitting of the oddly named Human Rights, Rule of Law and
Petitions Committee an amazingly outrageous situation ensued. One of
the senators, Mr. Robert
Mamątow, actually asked why
the law had been even considered by the lower house, since apparently
more important things to worry about”. This
is what we call a
fallacy of relative privation – a very dangerous discussion and
lobbying/advocacy technique that makes a lot of actually important
issues seem irrelevant just because someone puts them on the same
level with something that shouldn’t even be considered in the same
senator, Mr. Jan Rulewski,
to the law, one of them being
that gender recognition would
be accessible only to those who never had a child. As
you may imagine, it was his idea of “protecting the children”.
Fortunately, his ideas were not taken up by the Committee. Mr.
Rulewski did not quit, however, and requested that the Senate sought
an expert opinion from the Hight Court, although such an opinion had
already been issued just a few weeks before. Mr. Mamątow asked for
the Committee to reconvene within a week, since the National Court
Council would have also finished their debate about some aspects of
the Gender Accordance Act. The Committee scheduled its next meeting
for August 4th.
The Committee will meet at 8:30 am and the usual session of the
Senate will begin at 11:00 with the Gender Accordance Act scheduled
as point 3 of the agenda.
It is already fair to say that it will not be an easy battle. The Senate Health Committee, which held its meeting on July 30th as well, did not recommend the Senate to enact a gender recognition law. This decision came as a surprise, since the Committee held a reasonable and thoughtful discussion about important issues surrounding both gender recognition and reassignment. It’s painfully obvious that major politics are involved here. The sort of politics that do not seem to realize that it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change people’s lives for the better. Apparently, the Polish Senate sees ideology where none can be found. And refuses to take action that will benefit a number of Polish citizens.