Markus Lohi (Centre), the chairperson of the Parliament’s Social Affairs and Health Committee, talked to reporters about the committee’s meeting on a bill to reform the trans act in Helsinki on Wednesday, 18 January 2023. Lohi declined to comment on why the committee could not finalise its report on the bill according to plan by Wednesday. (Antti Hämäläinen – Lehtikuva)


THE PARLIAMENT’S Social Affairs and Health Committee on Wednesday suspended its meeting on a draft bill to reform the trans act after concluding that it will not be able to finalise its report on the bill.

“We’re talking about thoroughly examining the piece of legislation in the committee. It’ll take the time it takes,” Markus Lohi (Centre), the chairperson of the committee, was quoted stating to reporters in the Parliament House by YLE.

“We concluded unanimously that we don’t have the possibility to get this over the finish line today,” he said, declining to both shed light on what has complicated the process and speculate on when the statement could be finalised.

With the reform to be carried out by the end of the electoral term, the committee report must be presented to the Parliament by 20 February.

The trans act is to be reformed to enable transgender people to change their legal gender designation with an application, without undergoing the extensive medical examinations that are presently required.

The National Coalition, in particular, has called for amendments to the bill of late. Mia Laiho (NCP), the deputy chairperson of the Parliament’s Social Affairs and Health Committee, on Wednesday said the party wants to clarify and rectify the bill especially in regards to how often a person would be allowed to change their gender.

“We’re talking about what the limit should be. A limit of at least a year is what we’ve been proposing because it could reduce the risk of other wrongdoings,” she said according to the public broadcasting company.

The National Coalition has expressed its concern about, for instance, people changing their gender designation to avoid conscription.

Other parties have had no choice but to lend an ear to its concerns as the bill will likely require support also from the opposition pass the Parliament, with the Centre Party announcing it will allow its representatives to vote according to their conscience on the bill.

While the National Coalition is generally in favour of reforming the act, the bill presently under consideration is more comprehensive than what its party conference proposed, told Laiho.

“I’m sure this is in a way a question of conscience for everyone. All representatives can think for themselves and decide whether they can stand behind the proposal.”

Kai Mykkänen, the chairperson of the National Coalition Parliamentary Group, on Wednesday said the group will convene to discuss the issue once the committee report has been finalised, to determine whether it should designate the question as a conscience vote and allow all members to vote independently.

“That’s often the approach to these kinds of issues, but we’ve yet to have that discussion,” he was quoted saying to reporters by YLE.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT