Poland: Deputies strike down three civil partnership bills

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Deputies in Warsaw have rejected three bills which could have begun the process of allowing civil partnerships for gay couples in Poland.

Proposed legislation by the ruling Civic Platform Party was rejected by some of its own members, causing the party to become split, reports the Warsaw Voice. 

The split was between more progressive lawmakers and those worried that the plans were too much for the socially conservative country, in which recent studies have found that 90% of citizens declare themselves Catholic.

The most recent vote on 25 January in the lower house of parliament was one of several recent attempts to introduce legislation. These attempts go back to 2002.

The three bills, submitted by the Civil Platform Party, the opposition Democratic Left Alliance, and the socially liberal opposition Palikot Movement, were said to be incompatible with the Polish constitution which specifically defines marriage as between one man and one woman, according to Justice Minister, Jaroslaw Gowin.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, took to the floor following Gowin to ensure that it was clear that the Justice Minister’s statement was a personal opinion, and not the position of the government.

He called for the three bills to be considered at committee level, however all three were defeated on their first reading.

The motion to reject the first was backed by 276 deputies with 150 against, and 23 abstained.

The second bill, tabled by the Palikot Movement failed by a wide margin with 283 votes rejecting.

The ruling party’s bill failed by a narrower margin, but was opposed by 228 deputies, with 211 supporting.

The three bills had proposed that civil partnerships for both straight and gay couples, should be allowed to be registered at registrar’s offices. It would have obliged partners to support each other, including financially. They included property inheritance clauses, and would allow civil partners to make medical decisions in hospital.

None of the bills granted adoption rights to same-sex couples.

Krystyna Pawłowicz, a deputy from the main opposition Law and Justice party, expressed her party’s opposition to allowing civil partnerships.

She said: “There is no point wasting time analyzing the provisions of the bills, as the very provisions defy the constitution and propose a detrimental union that challenges marriage and, in the long run, will make marriage less appealing.

“Homosexual relationships… at best are about pointless exploitation of the other person and treating them like an object.”

She went on to say that the idea of civil partnerships was “purely hedonistic and destructive to people and their partners and family members… It is not in society’s interests to help achieve the easy and convenient fulfillment of egoistic wishes” at the expense of society and the public budget.

Poland is one of few EU member states which lacks legislation allowing civil partnerships. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and Greece also do not allow civil partnerships.

Advocates of civil partnerships in the country announced that they would soon propose new ideas. The Prime MInister also said his party would come up with new provisions for a bill as soon as possible, and was joined by Justice Minister Gowin in saying he would help him to draw up the bill.

A poll released in January found that support for equal marriage in Poland had doubled since 2003, but still remained low.

The poll by TNS Polska indicated that in 2003, 8% of Polish people supported marriage equality, which had risen to 16% in 2012,

Back in September 2012, Poland’s ruling centre-right party, Civic Platform Party, announced that it would introduce legislation allowing gay couples to have civil unions.