Poland advances ‘unscientific’ treaty banning abortion and equal marriage ‘based on lies and misunderstandings’

Emma Powys Maurice March 31, 2021
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Police at an Equality March in Katowice, Poland in 2020. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty)

Poland has progressed plans to replace the Istanbul Convention with a sinister international treaty that would ban abortion and same-sex marriage.

The draft law “Yes to Family, No to Gender” went to a vote in the lower house of the Polish parliament on Thursday (31 March), where it was approved by a total of 250 MPs.

The bill denounces the convention on women’s safety as “ineffective and ideologically-driven”, claiming it “not only fails to protect the family and its members from pathological behaviour such as violence but also leads to their intensification”.

It calls for the convention to be replaced with a new treaty, dubbed The Convention on the Rights of the Family, which defines a family as a union between a woman and a man.

Nearly the entire Civic Coalition and the Left voted to reject the bill but it was passed thanks to the votes of the ruling Law and Justice party, which is currently leading a vicious crusade against Poland’s LGBT+ community.

It has now been referred for consideration by the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, and the justice and human rights committee.

“The draft is based on false premises and misunderstandings. It flagrantly contradicts scientific knowledge and internationally recognised values,” said Urszula Nowakowska, head of the Center for Women’s Rights, speaking to Wyborcza.

“The standards adopted in [The Istanbul Convention] are universally recognised by the experts of the Council of Europe, the European Union, and UN agencies … Does Poland really want to join this ‘elite’ club of undemocratic countries that have not joined the convention or have denounced it?”

The legislation was initiated by the Christian Social Congress and the extremist think tank Ordo Iuris, described as the “driving force” behind the country’s notorious LGBT-free zones.

“The Istanbul Convention undermines the foundations of the Polish legal order by questioning the autonomy and identity of the family and by restricting the right to raise children by their parents,” Ordo Iuris has stated.

Worryingly, many of the bill’s themes appeared in a leaked letter sent last year from the Polish justice ministry to at least four conservative governments – Croatia, Czechia, Slovakia and Slovenia – in an apparent attempt to rally their support.

The replacement treaty proposed in the letter would 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 concerning implications for the rights and recognition of trans and intersex 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.”

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