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Poland rejects inclusion of third gender in new European Union identity cards

Poland will not include the possibility of a third gender in its new European Union identity cards.

A new regulation put forth by the European Union for the purpose of “strengthening the security of identity cards of Union citizens and of residence documents issued to Union citizens and their family members exercising their right of free movement” will be effective as of August 1. It states, “Member States should be able to decide whether to include a person’s gender on a document covered by this Regulation. Where a Member State includes a person’s gender on such a document, the specifications of ICAO Document 9303 ‘F’, ‘M’ or ‘X’ or the corresponding single initial used in the language or languages of that Member State should be used, as appropriate” (Regulation (EU) 2019/1157 of the European Parliament and of the Council).

Currently, Poland’s identity cards include the holder’s gender, with a “K” (for kobieta, meaning “woman”) or “M” (for mężczyzna, meaning “man”). The Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna reports that lawyers claim that the new regulation would require Poland to alter its current identity cards to also offer the third “X” option for those who identify as neither male nor female. Failure to do so, the lawyers say, could be a violation of European Union law. However, Paweł Szefernaker, Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland, told the newspaper that the government does not intend to introduce a third gender option.

“The purpose of the EU regulation is to improve the security of identity cards and regulate technical issues, not an ideological revolution,” Szefernaker said. “There are [only] women and men in the Polish legal system. Therefore, the cards will include these two genders. The EU cannot order us to introduce something that violates the Polish legal order” (Notes from Poland). In response, Aleksandra Gajewska of the Polish Civic Coalition told Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that “if the government does not allow entering the letter ‘X’ in the ID card, but only ‘K’ and ‘M,’ we will take legal steps to change this.” 

The topic of sex and gender is a heated, controversial debate in Poland. Gajewska recently criticized the Polish national census for only allowing a choice between male and female genders. In addition, Poland’s commissioner for human rights, Adam Podner, had the same concern over the census. He claims that this “makes it difficult for those filling out [the census] online to exercise their rights” and that it “prevents them from giving accurate, complete and truthful answers” (Notes from Poland). In response, members of the Law and Justice party oppose these views.

Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the Law and Justice Party, states, “Christian civilisation…is under attack today, but it can be defended…in Poland… As long as we are in power, nobody will impose anything on us – those who want to live in a normal world, where a woman is a woman and a man is a man.” The gender debate will continue as the Polish government stands firm in its decision to reject the addition of a third gender on the new European Union identity cards.

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ARTICLE: EVA SALGADO

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

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