Poland votes down same-sex civil partnerships
January 28, 2013
PM Donald Tusk voting for civil partnerships
The lower house of the Polish parliament Sejm rejected on Friday three bills on civil partnerships that would have recognized some legal rights for unmarried same-sex couples, dividing liberal minded and conservative members of the ruling party Civic Platform (PO) on a highly contentious issue in a deeply catholic country.
None of the draft laws included provisions that would legalize same-gender marriage or grant the right of adoption to homosexual couples. The bill proposed by Prime Minister Donald Tusk's PO would have given such couples legal protections including ability to inherit property and tax breaks.
Two left-wing opposition parties, the Democratic Left Alliance and the Palikot Movement introduced bills of their own that would have granted additional rights. They were defeated by firm majorities.
But the draft law tabled by PO was defeated by a narrow margin of 17 votes, with 228 MPs in the 460-seat parliament voting against the bill to move forward, including 46 of the ruling party’s house members.
PM Tusk had campaigned for a vote on the issue but did not impose discipline on his MPs. Ahead of the final vote an argument broke out between Tusk and his justice minister Jaroslaw Gowin, who is seen as an informal leader of a conservative group within the ruling party.
Gowin argued that the legislation was incompatible with Poland’s constitution, which explicitly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Mr. Tusk urged MPs to ignore Gowin’s objections and allow the legislation to proceed.
“It’s not the government’s position that the bills violate the constitution,” Tusk said. “One can’t close one’s eyes to social facts”. "You can't question the existence of such people (living in homosexual partnerships) and you can't argue against the people who decide to live in such way," he said.
Krystyna Pawlowicz of the main opposition conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party said the debate over civil partnerships would only distract from Poland's “real problems.”
“It's not in society's interests to help achieve the fulfillment of egoistic wishes,” she said. "Society cannot fund structures and institutions, which do not allow for society to last."
Another PiS MP Artur Gorski said that the bills would "enshrine in law the moral downfall of society and exacerbate the crisis of the traditional model of the family.”
Surveys show that nearly 80% of Poles oppose same-gender marriage and around 90% believe that gay and lesbian couples should not have the right to adopt children.