Poland’s ruling centre-right party, Platforma Obywatelska (PO), has announced that it will introduce legislation allowing gay couples to have civil unions.

It’s being seen as a step forward for gay rights in the Eastern European country – although it falls far short of marriage equality, and the measure is facing stiff opposition from social conservatives.

Opponents, including justice minister Jaroslaw Gowin and members of the reactionary Law & Justice Party claim civil partnerships will undermine the institution of marriage.

MP and PO member Aurtur Dunin told Polish Radio that equal marriage was not on the table and plans to equalise tax laws for gay couples had been ruled out too.

Mr Dunin said the proposed bill was “very conservative” and is not aimed at legalising same-sex marriage. The bill also fails to introduce adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Article 18 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland currently defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

Pawel Kowalski from Mazovia, Poland, told PinkNews.co.uk: “I don’t understand why two people should not be able to marry and live a happy life without being subject to political debate”.

Mr Kowalski added: “Civil partnerships will fit with one group of people, but marriage is an option for others – and we should be able to choose which is best for us as gay Polish citizens”.

Last October saw Poland elect its first ever transgender MP, Anna Grodzka.