trans flag
International human rights champions and LGBTQ+ campaigners appeal to MPs to vote against bill proposed by rightwingers
Slovakian MPs are under mounting international pressure to reject a bill that would see the country follow Hungary in effectively putting a stop to decades of legal gender recognition for transgender people.

A vote is expected in parliament within days on a law proposed by conservative and far-right parties that would require someone to have the "correct" set of chromosomes to match their legal gender.

Human rights NGO Amnesty International has joined the Council of Europe in appealing to Slovakian MPs not to back the bill, which they say is in conflict with the country's obligations under the European convention on human rights.

The change in Slovakia would follow a vote three years ago in Hungary that endorsed a new law defining gender as based on chromosomes at birth, meaning previous provisions whereby trans people could alter their gender and name on official documents is no longer available.

In Slovakia, each citizen has an official "birth number" that indicates their date of birth and gender. It can be found on official documentation such as passports.

Under the proposed law, which easily won the backing of a majority of MPs on its first reading last March, it would not be legally possible to change the birth number to specify a different gender without a corroborating "chromosome test".

A change to a birth number has been possible in Slovakia since the country was communist and part of Czechoslovakia.

Comment: What kind of 'change' to the birth number was possible?

Local health organisations and campaigners for LGBTQ+ rights have condemned the draft law as an attack on the rights of trans people. Rado Sloboda, director of Amnesty Slovakia, said the bill would affect trans people in their daily lives.

He said: "Transgender people have been able to access legal gender recognition in Slovakia for more than 40 years but the Slovak parliament is now proposing to change legislation and remove this right.

Comment: This is apparently a twisting of the facts, because Wikipedia states: 'Transgender people in Slovakia have been allowed to change legal gender since 1995.'

"Amnesty International is calling on members of the Slovak parliament to reject this bill which jeopardises the rights of trans people and places the Slovak Republic in breach of its obligations under international human rights law.

"This law will gravely impact the rights of transgender people, forcing them to reveal their gender assigned at birth in everyday circumstances, such as signing for parcels. It will increase the risk of bullying, discrimination, or violence, and impact the right to privacy. This bill should not pass."

Dunja Mijatovic, commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, wrote to Slovakian parliamentarians last month warning that the bill is in conflict with the country's obligations under the European convention on human rights.

She had raised the issue in the context of an apparent growing intolerance in some quarters in the country towards the rights of those in the LGBTQ+ community, highlighted by the October 2022 shooting at the Tepláreň gay bar in Bratislava, where two people were killed and another person was injured.

Comment: That's hardly evidence of 'growing intolerance'. However it accurate to say that a pushback against the creep of LGBT+ ideology is growing, and its pushers might be partly to blame.

The attempted change to the law is being seen by activists as an attempt by conservative forces to unpick guidelines issued by the Slovakian ministry of health in March last year under which people could legally change their gender without the need for surgery.

That reform was celebrated at the time by Lucia Plaváková, vice-president of the Progressive Slovakia party, as an end to the forced sterilisation of trans people.

Comment: So Slovakia accepts that 'trans-affirming care' is the sterilisation of a patient; in the US this is happening to young people and even children.

It had been heavily opposed by the same leading politicians on the right, including the president of the Christian Union, Anna Záborská, who are now seeking to restrict people from changing their birth numbers.

Alexandra Demetrianova, from the Slovak human rights organisation, Saplinq, said she feared that there could be a majority in favour of the change in the law, with the far right seeking to churn up resentment against the LGBTQ+ community in the run-up to September's general election.

She said: "There has been quite a lot of pressure from international institutions and the healthcare sector, who are very vocal against the bill. It is a question whether this will be enough to convince the MPs. Because of election time the chances are very high that many of the MPs will vote in favour.

Comment: One would infer that the majority of Slovak's support the bill, too. Isn't that democracy?

There has been a very strong hateful campaign targeting transgender people, saying they are a threat to the traditional family. It is part of a global push against transgender people, is how we see it."

The vote is due to be held within the May session of the Slovakian parliament which ends on Friday.