Justice minister stays in office after conflict with PM over civil partnerships
March 5, 2013
Justice Minister Jaroslaw Gowin
Poland’s Justice Minister Jaroslaw Gowin, the informal leader of the conservative faction in the ruling party Civic Platform (PO) will retain his post, PM Donald Tusk said on Monday after his meetings with Gowin concerning their recent public difference of opinion.
Gowin's potential departure has been the subject of press speculation after he and a group of conservative PO MPs opposed the PO-authored bill on civil partnerships.
"We had a public difference of opinion . . . but we needed some time to consider whether we can set our relations straight so that we can cooperate," Tusk told a press conference.
"I was convinced by Minister Gowin's declaration that he would not have any more problems with differentiating his own beliefs from government loyalty, and I am not going to torture anyone over his or her views," Tusk said.
On Jan. 25 the lower house of the Polish parliament Sejm rejected three bills on civil partnerships that would have recognized some legal rights for unmarried same-sex couples, dividing liberal minded and conservative members of PO on a highly contentious issue in a deeply catholic country.
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 Gowin who 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.
On Monday Tusk said he hopes the issue of civil partnerships will no longer divide the ruling party as well as the society so strongly as it has been seen so far.
The government will continue to work on "a constitutional and a better solution" to the issue of civil partnerships, Tusk also said.