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Slovakia to Vote on Genetic Testing Requirement to Legally Change Gender Status

Critics of the bill say this rule will make it impossible for transgender people to have their preferred gender on their legal documents

The Slovakian parliament will vote on a proposed restriction of gender listings on official documents that critics say unfairly limits people who identify as transgender. 

The new rule would permit citizens to change their official documents only if genetic testing verifies the listing is incorrect. Transgender people could not request altered documents based on gender identity.

Under current law, people who identify as transgender can change their gender on their ID cards as well as their first and last names. Slovakian last names reflect the individual’s gender with a gender-reflective suffix, per Reuters

Amnesty International opposed the policy change and urged the public to contact Slovakian lawmakers in protest. The organization says it will make it “impossible” for transgender-identifying adults to have their genders legally recognized.

Transgender people have been able to access legal gender recognition in Slovakia for more than 40 years,” said Amnesty in a statement on its website. “If adopted, the new bill would force transgender people to prove they have the ‘correct’ set of chromosomes to have their legal gender affirmed. It’s virtually impossible, as most transgender people don’t have chromosomes that match their gender identity and goes against the right to self-determination and international human rights law.”

The human rights NGO said the policy will “force” transgender-identifying people into “revealing their gender assigned at birth … during every medical appointment, while travelling, or when signing for a parcel” and will “increase the risk of bullying, discrimination, or violence and impact their right to privacy.”

The bill won 87 of 150 votes during its first reading. A final reading is expected to be held before the end of May.

If passed, President Zuzana Caputova may opt to veto the policy. Caputova is the nation’s first female president who has taken a progressive stance on LGBTQ marriage and adoption rights. 

Slovakia would not be the first Eastern European country to require legal gender status to correspond with an individual’s chromosomes. In 2020, Hungary adopted a law defining “new” – the Hungarian word for both “sex” and “gender” – as a person’s sex at birth based on both primary sex characteristics and chromosomes. The law stated that sex at birth cannot be altered once recorded. 

This new law compounds the marginalization trans people in Hungary already face,” the Human Rights Watch wrote in response to the policy’s enactment. “Hungarian President Janos Ader has a duty to ensure that people’s basic rights are not violated by unconstitutional laws. He should decline to sign this law and instead refer it to the Constitutional Court for review. And the European Union’s Commissioner on Equality, Helena Dalli, should strongly denounce Hungary’s attack against nondiscrimination, a core right enshrined in EU treaties.”

Neither Ader nor Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban took steps to block the legislation after its passage.

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