Transsexual could be new deputy speaker in Poland

Posted at 02/01/13 8:19 AM

WARSAW - She made history as Poland's first transsexual lawmaker in 2011 and now Anna Grodzka could become a deputy speaker of parliament in this deeply Roman Catholic nation.

Born as a man, Grodzka, 58, was nominated Thursday for the position by party colleagues in the left-wing, anti-clerical Palikot Movement, which advocates legalising marijuana and civil unions for gay couples.

Grodzka is believed to be the world's only current transsexual member of parliament, but she is not the first. Transsexual Georgina Beyer served in New Zealand's parliament between 1999-2007.

Each of the six largest political parties sitting in the Polish parliament is entitled to a deputy speaker. An opposition party, the Palikot Movement commands 43 seats in Poland's 460-seat lower house of parliament.

Grodzka needs to muster a simple majority in order to be voted into office, but lawmakers from the Catholic and nationalist Law and Justice party -- which commands 138 seats -- have already said they will not vote for Grodzka.

"If my candidature is seen as a provocation, that's just fine. My mission has always been to make sure everyone is treated equally," she told reporters in parliament Thursday.

It was unclear how many legislators would turn up for the vote from other parties, including the governing Civic Platform (PO), which has 206 seats, or the smaller Polish Peasant party, which has 29.

The opposition ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance with 25 seats has suggested it will back Grodzka.

If voted in, she would replace Palikot Movement legislator Wanda Nowicka, a high-profile feminist who has long advocated liberalising Poland's restrictive abortion law.

Abortion is allowed only in cases of rape, incest or where a pregnancy poses a threat to the mother's life.

Grodzka's nomination comes just days after parliament voted down three bills on civil unions for unmarried couples, a move backed by gay rights activists but fiercely opposed by conservatives.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse