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Poland plots terrifying treaty banning abortion and same-sex marriage to replace convention on women’s safety

Emma Powys Maurice March 16, 2021
Poland

Far-right extremists clash with riot police at a Pride parade in Lublin, eastern Poland, in 2019. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty)

A leaked letter has revealed Poland’s plans to replace the Istanbul Convention on violence against women with an international treaty banning abortion and same-sex marriage.

It’s understood that the Polish justice ministry is preparing an alternative treaty that seeks to boost the rights of “traditional families”, according to a ministerial letter leaked to the non-profit Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).

The letter was sent last year to at least four conservative governments – Croatia, Czechia, Slovakia and Slovenia – in an apparent attempt to rally their support.

Poland announced its intention to leave the Istanbul Convention in July 2020, days after the country’s right-wing nationalist ruling party secured another term in power.

Speaking at the time, justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro declared that the international treaty on ending violence against women was “harmful” because it justifies “gay ideology” and requires schools to teach children about gender.

The replacement treaty would reportedly offer “particular support” to “the protection of the life of a conceived child”, which should be understood as ending abortion, and “the concept of marriage remains reserved exclusively for the relationship of a woman and a man”.

It also has worrying implications for the rights and recognition of transgender people, stating: “The term ‘sex’ should be understood as a set of biological features, including genetic features, enabling the objective distinction between a woman and a man.”

Many of the ideas appear to originate in a draft international family rights convention prepared by the Ordo Iuris Institute, an extremist think tank described as the “driving force” behind Poland’s LGBT-free zones.

Among the many chilling details highlighted by BIRN is the introduction of the concept of “crimes against family”.

“While examples of such crimes in the letter include physical and psychological violence, sexual violence or forced marriage, the text specifies the list is not exhaustive – begging the question of whether actions like abortion or gay marriage might be added at a later stage,” the non-profit notes.

The revealing letter comes as the Polish parliament prepares this week to debate a citizen’s initiative to leave the Istanbul Convention.

The Polish left-wing MP Marcelina Zawisza speculated that this is likely part of the governing party’s strategy. Although the initiative probably won’t gain enough public support to pass, she said, it will be enough to lay the groundwork for a serious alternative to the Istanbul Convention.

“Its role is to introduce fake news into the public space, to plant the seeds of doubt as to whether the Istanbul Convention is necessary, to promote a negative attitude to it,” she warned. “The same thing that happened with abortion.”

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