European Court: Polish birth certificate not discriminatory against transgender


Central Europe


Photo AFP, John Thys

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Polish government has the right to refuse to issue a long-form birth certificate to a transgender male.

The transgender man (52), born a woman, had asked the Polish government for an updated long-form birth certificate to reflect his gender identity in 2011, Court House News Service reports. In 1992, the man, who lives in France, had already obtained an updated short-form birth certificate via court order. That also happened after his sex reassignment surgery.

The short-form certificate is more common and can be used for identification and documentation. The long-form certificate serves mainly as a civil record.

The second time the transgender male applied for a certificate, the government refused. It acted in line with its policy of not reissuing long-form birth certificates for people who underwent sex reassignment surgery. Warsaw argued that a long-form birth certificate is a record of the actual birth, which cannot be changed. Most European countries also use this policy.

The European Court of Human Rights now ruled that the policy is not discriminatory. According to the judges, a country has the right to maintain accurate birth records. In addition, the court ruled that keeping the original birth certificate does not meaningfully impact the life of the transgender male.

The judges state that he did not "demonstrate that he had suffered any sufficiently serious negative consequences or difficulties resulting from the fact that the sex assigned at birth is still visible in the form of an annotation on his full birth certificate", as Court House News reports.

The transgender man argued that he was in the process of applying for French citizenship and adopting a child. He is married and adopted a child in 2001. The court replied that both his wedding certificate and his daughter's birth certificate already showed his male gender.



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