Poland’s ruling centre right party, Platforma Obywatelska (PO), is planning to introduce a law of registered civil partnerships that will be include same-sex couples. The proposed bill, however, is being met with fierce opposition within and outside the party.
After several months of discussion, the PO decided last week to put to the vote a draft bill in both chambers of the Polish parliament, the Sejm and Senate.
The proposed draft bill of registered civil partnership is similar the current French Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS).
The bill includes a range of benefits which currently are only granted to married heterosexual couples, including protections and responsibilities, inheritance, pension funds, notary, and medical rights. Joint tax benefits and adoption rights are not included in the bill.
The PO is the country’s largest party and its intention to put the draft bill to the vote surprised many political commentators as the party opposed last year in a parliamentary vote a similar draft bill introduced by left wing parties.
This means that there is a chance for parliamentary majority necessary for the bill to pass into law.
So far, the president and prime minister of Poland have not voiced any opposition to the bill, nevertheless it is expected to meet some opposition within the PO.
Previous attempts to introduce similar draft bills from within the PO have been strong opposed by some its conservative members, including justice minister Jaroslaw Gowin.
Opponents label the registered civil partnership as ‘pseudo marriage’, warning it will undermine the institution of marriage.
In an interview with Radio Poland Dunin stated that the project does not aim to put registered civil partnership on an equal par with marriage.
He also pointed out that in contrast to the unsuccessful bill previously drafted and put to the vote by left wing parties, his project does not include joint tax benefits, citizenship or adoption. Dunin argued that the draft bill is limited and conservative in its scope and compatible with the PO policies.
The bill is expected to be supported by the Alliance of the Democratic Left (SLD) whose previous bill was rejected by the PO and right wing parties. The Polish People’s Party (PSL) is not expected to oppose the bill.
The main opposition party, the right-wing conservative ‘Law and justice’ (PiS) party, is expected to strongly oppose the bill.
Poland is a predomintantly Catholic country, and the church remains fiercly opposed to any recognition of same-sex couples.
Currently there is no legal recognition of same-sex couples in Poland.
Article 18 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland (1997) defines ‘marriage’ as a union of a man and a woman.
In late 2003, Polish Senator Maria Szyszkowska proposed civil unions for same-sex couples, similar to Dunin’s project . The legislation was met with blocked by the PO and PiS in both houses of the Polish parliament.
In October 2011, Poland elected its first openly gay member of parliament Robert BiedroÅ„, as well as its first transgender MP, Anna Grodzka.