Conservative majority in parliament refuses vote on civil partnerships
A majority of MPs from the ruling centre-right Civic Platform (PO) joined other conservative politicians who blocked a debate on draft legislation on civil partnerships in Poland, Tuesday.
MPs voted overwhelmingly against including two draft bills on civil partnerships among the topics for debate in the current parliamentary session.
The vote sparked demonstrations outside the parliament building in Warsaw, where supporters and opponents of gay rights gathered this morning.
The two draft bills were put forward by the liberal Palikot Movement and Democratic Left Alliance (SLD).
The first bill was blocked by 323 votes against to 88 for, with 14 abstentions, the second was voted down by 324 to 81, with 21 abstentions.
The former proposal is based on the French "PACS" model ("Pacte Civil de Solidarite"), declaring that partners - either hetro or homosexual - in a relationship “have equal rights and responsibilities, and will provide mutual help and support, as well as take care of the maintenance bond of marriage.”
The second draft bill provides prospective partners with the freedom to define their own legal agreement as to precisely what rights and obligations should be undertaken, among them questions regarding ownership of property.
Only 25 MPs from centre-right senior coalition partner Civic Platform (PO) voted in favour of including the first draft bill as a subject of debate, and just 18 in the second.
Civic Platform split
The figures highlight a divide in the party, with a liberal faction, including Minister of Culture Bodgdan Zdrojewski and Minister of Sport Joanna Mucha, at odds with more conservative MPs, which include Justice Minister Jaroslaw Gowin.
The factions are similarly at odds over the question of state funding of the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure and other social issues.
Earlier this month, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of conservative opposition party Law and Justice (PiS), proposed cooperation with Justice Minister Gowin over the IVF issue – Poland currently has no law on the treatment - so as to block prospective liberal legislation.
All of the Law and Justice MPs present in parliament on Tuesday voted against considering the civil partnership bills.
Civic Platform has announced that it is preparing its own bill on the issue after believing that the proposals put forward by liberal and left wing politicians are unconstitional.
Parliament reflecting electorate
The conservative nature of parliament reflects opinion poll findings in Poland. A study commissioned by the Government Plenipotentiary for Equality found that just 23 percent of Poles support the idea of civic partnerships.
“Many people associate partnerships with homosexual marriage, so few Poles approve of this solution ,” Dr. Radoslaw Muniak of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (SWPS) in Warsaw told the Wprost weekly. (pg/nh)