New Polish ruling coalition outlines plans to introduce same-sex unions

Figures from each of the three main groups that make up Poland’s new ruling coalition have outlined plans to introduce legal recognition of same-sex unions. However, one of them has ruled out the idea of also allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The new government was sworn into office last week, ending eight years of rule by the national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which had led a vocal campaign against what it calls “LGBT ideology”.

The new administration – made up of the centrist Civic Coalition (KO), centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga) and The Left (Lewica) – is expected to expand LGBT rights, though it is not clear to what extent. Their coalition agreement only mentioned making anti-LGBT hate speech a crime.

The opposition groups likely to form the next government have signed a coalition agreement

They pledged to:
– restore rule of law
– annul the near-total abortion ban
– depoliticise public media
– prosecute anti-LGBT hate speech
– separate church and state

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 10, 2023

While KO has previously pledged to introduce same-sex unions and The Left wants full marriage equality, there have been questions over the more conservative Third Way. Yesterday, one of its leaders, Szymon Hołownia, confirmed his support for same-sex unions.

“The law on civil partnerships should have been passed a long time ago, it’s already the 21st century” Hołownia, who last month was elected as speaker of the Sejm, the more powerful lower house of parliament, told broadcaster TVN. “It must be done.”

“If a pair of Polish citizens want to inform the state that they have formally decided on a lasting relationship, which is also to have certain legal consequences, they have the right to, and the state must acknowledge it,” he added. “There is no ideology here.”

However, “the situation with marriage and its definition is different”, said Hołownia, adding that he is personally opposed to allowing same-sex marriage. He admitted that there needs to be debate on the issue, but claimed that “this is not the moment” for it.

#Hołownia o związkach partnerskich: ta ustawa już dawno powinna być uchwalona @szymon_holownia

— Trójka – Program 3 Polskiego Radia (@RadiowaTrojka) December 17, 2023

Meanwhile, this morning KO MP Dariusz Joński told broadcaster Radio Zet that “a draft law on civil partnerships will be prepared” but there still needed to be “talks with our coalition [partners]” about the issue.

On Friday, the newly appointed equality minister, Katarzyna Kotula of The Left, said that she believed such a bill would be ready for consultation by late January or early February.

Kotula expressed confidence that there would be a majority in the Sejm in favour of the legislation. However, Hołownia admitted that it remained unclear how the “conservative wing” of the Polish People’s Party (PSL) – which makes up the Third Way along with Hołownia’s Poland 2050 (Polska 2050) party – would vote.

Opposition leader @donaldtusk has pledged to simplify the gender-recognition process for trans people and introduce same-sex civil partnerships if he wins next month’s elections.

LGBT people are a „victimised minority” in Poland, he says

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 22, 2023

PSL has 28 MPs, and without them the government does not have a majority in the Sejm. Some PSL politicians, such as Władysław Teofil Bartoszewski, have said they support same-sex unions. But others, such as Marek Sawicki, say they opposed the idea.

PSL’s leader, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, who has himself suggested he could vote in favour of civil partnerships, says that the party would not impose discipline on its members if the issue comes before parliament.

The question was given renewed urgency after the European Court of Human Rights last week ruled that Poland’s lack of recognition of same-sex couples violates their human rights.

Under the PiS government, Poland has since 2020 been ranked as the worst country in the EU for LGBT people in the annual Rainbow Europe index compiled by ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based NGO.

Poland’s lack of legal recognition for same-sex unions violates human rights, the European Court of Human Rights ruled today.

The judges rejected the Polish government’s arguments, which included that traditional marriage is part of Poland’s heritage

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 12, 2023

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Miłość Nie Wyklucza/Flickr (under CC BY-ND 2.0)

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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