European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

New Coalition for Civil Partnerships in Poland

From a Register Office to the European Court of Human Rights – five Polish lesbian and gay couples open a new chapter in the fight for civil partnerships.

(Media release from Coalition for Civil Partnerships - For further information please contact: Kampania Przeciw Homofobiiwww.kph.org.pl)

First civil partnerships bill draft was put forward in Poland in 2004. It's been 11 years and Poland is still at the standstill. Five lesbian and gay couples stated they couldn't count on Polish politicians and decided to take matters in their own hands. With the aid of lawyers who established the Coalition for Civil Partnerships they will undertake legal proceedings in order to introduce changes to the Polish legal system. Together they want to obtain a history-making judgment of the European Court of Human Rights that will oblige Poland to adopt regulations enabling same-sex couple to register civil partnerships.

Couples, who take part in the proceeding of the Coalition come from all over Poland, are of various age and their relationships are of different lengths. Their main incentive for getting engaged in the fight for civil partnerships has been the need to provide safety and security for themselves and their nearest and dearest. They want to live in dignity and they believe  they shouldn't be treated unfairly by the legal system. One of the couples, who are willing to walk the path from a register office to the European Court of Human Rights are Cecylia Przybyszewska and Barbara Starska from Łódź, who have been in a relationship for 4 years. When asked about their motivation for taking part in the Coalition strategic litigation they stated: „We want to live in dignity and consider ourselves rightful citizens of Poland, the country we both love so much. We want to be recognized as a family not only by our relatives but also in the eyes of the law”. Krzysztof Łoś and Grzegorz Lepianka from Warsaw have a similar motivation. They've been together for 13 years. They said: „We fight for our own rights. The state should provide us with legal protection and ensure safety regarding all issues that are fundamental for us being a family. This litigation will hopefully make Poles realize that forcing same-sex couples to shack up is simply denying them the right to live with a sense of security”.

The Coalition will simultaneously initiate five legal proceedings (a separate proceeding for each couple) leading to verification whether Polish legal system is capable of providing sufficient recognition and legal protection for same-sex couples.  Due to the lack of legal recognition of civil partnerships in Poland, these proceedings will be instituted by each couple giving a notice of intention to marry to the local register office and a statement of no contraindications and no objections to proceed. In case of receiving negative decisions the Coalition will then concentrate on verifying their grounds using all  legal tools available in Poland, and finally – in case of not succeeding – by lodging a submission to the European Court of Human Rights. The final aim of the Coalition is for the Polish legal system to adopt regulations enabling same-sex couple to formalize their relationships.

Taking into account the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Oliari and others v. Italy issued on the 21st July 2015, the likelihood of fulfilling the aim of the Coalition for Civil Partnerships is high. In this case the Court considered that the lack of legal recognition of sex-same relationship in Italy is a violation of Article 8  - right to respect for private and family life – of the European Convention on Human Rights. One can therefore assume that in case of filing a similar complaint and bringing a case against Poland, the European Court will remain coherent and its judgment will be uniform with that made regarding the Oliari case.

Amongst the lawyers who form the Coalition for Civil Partnerships are representatives of the NGOs: Paweł Knut (Kampania Przeciw Homofobii /Camapaign Against Homophobia), Dorota Pudzianowska (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights ) and Krzysztof Śmiszek (Polskie Towarzystwo Prawa Antydyskryminacyjnego/Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law), as well as lawyers representing law firms: Marcin Górski (Tataj Górski Adwokaci), Krystian Legierski, Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak, Paweł Osik, Mikołaj Pietrzak and Ewa Ryczko (Pietrzak Sidor & Wspólnicy), and Marcin Wojciechowski. Maja Korzeniewska (Stowarzyszenie Miłość Nie Wyklucza / Love Does Not Exclude Foundation) will provide co-ordinational supervision.

Due to the need to use all the available tools of appeal, implementation of the agenda of the Coalition for Civil Partnerships with be a long-term one (approximately 5 years if it is indispensable to file complains to the European Court of Human Rights).