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Fivb grand prix Finals Netherlands vs Poland
02-08-2015

Won't somebody please think of the children?!

The Polish Senate did. And boy, was it dumb. 

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.

What 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”.

You 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.

On July 30th 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 does.

Coming 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 “Poland has 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 category.

Another senator, Mr. Jan Rulewski, proposed two amendments 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.

We’ll know in twelve hourse. Stay tuned.