One of the leaders of The Left (Lewica), Poland’s second-largest opposition group, has symbolically married his partner during a theatrical performance. They expressed hope that they will one day be able to do so for real in their home country, which currently allows no form of legalised same-sex unions.
“I performed hundreds of weddings as mayor of Słupsk, but this is the first time I’ve stood on the other side,” said Robert Biedroń. “It’s a beautiful feeling that needs to be shared. That’s why we should do everything so that two adults can experience a wedding whenever they want. Because love is love.”
Udzieliłem setek ślubów jako prezydent Slupska, ale pierwszy raz stanąłem po drugiej stronie. Po 23 latach w związku. To piękne uczucie, którym trzeba się dzielić. Dlatego powinnismy zrobić wszystko, żeby dwie dorosłe osoby mogły doświadczyć ślubu gdy chcą. Bo miłość to miłość!❤️ pic.twitter.com/BHYfcVNdvU
— Robert Biedroń (@RobertBiedron) September 28, 2023
Biedroń and his partner, Krysztof Śmiszek, are both politicians from The Left. The pair have been together for 23 years and have regularly called for the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Their political group also supports marriage equality.
“What a wedding!” tweeted Śmieszek. “There were nerves and emotions. But there was also anger that in 2023, in the middle of Europe, two people who love each other are not recognised by their country…That instead of respect and dignity, hundreds of thousands of people in Poland receive contempt.”
“We can change this on 15 October!” he declared, referring to next month’s parliamentary elections. “Let’s vote for respect, dignity and equality. I won’t rest until we achieve this normality!”
A Polish same-sex couple have lost their long-running effort to have their overseas marriage recognised by Poland’s courts.
They will now take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that Poland has left them in a „legal vacuum” https://t.co/S6NoWdlhBz
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 17, 2022
The couple’s ceremony was performed as part of a play, Spartacus: Love in the Time of Cholera, that is currently touring Poland. The work looks at the difficult situation faced by LGBT people in Poland, which has been ranked as the worst country in Europe for LGBT people for the last four years running.
Each performance ends with the wedding of a different non-heterosexual couple. The actress conducting the ceremony uses the same words as are said during official weddings in Poland apart from at the very end.
There, she says: “I declare that contrary to the regulations in force in the Republic of Poland, the marriage of [the couple’s names] has been concluded.”
The play’s director, Jakub Skrzywanek, told the Gazeta Wybrocza daily that many of the couples who participate in the ceremony treat it very seriously, inviting guests to attend and then celebrating their union afterwards.
A growing majority of Poles favour the legalisation of same-sex civil unions or marriage, with almost two thirds now in favour, a new poll has found https://t.co/ivS7MswKWi
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) June 10, 2022
LGBT rights have been a highly contested issue in Poland in recent years, with the country’s national-conservatiuve ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party mounting a vociferous campaign against what it calls “LGBT ideology”.
The issue has featured relatively little in the ongoing election campaign. However, as well as The Left’s pledge to introduce same-sex marriage, the largest opposition group, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), has said that it would legalise same-sex civil partnerships if it comes to power.
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Main image credit: Krzysztof Śmiszek/Twitter
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.