Recognition of same-sex unions in Poland
|Legal status of
*Not yet in effect
In 2004, under the left-wing government the Senate approved a bill allowing gay and lesbian people to register their relationships as civil unions. Parties to a civil union under the bill would have been given a great range of benefits, protections and responsibilities (e.g. pension funds, joint tax and death-related benefits), currently granted only to spouses in a marriage although they would not have been allowed to adopt children. The bill lapsed in the 2005 general election.
Only two parties, Alliance of the Democratic Left (SLD)-Labour Union and Social Democracy of Poland, (both social democrats) support the bill, while Civic Platform (PO), League of Polish Families and Law and Justice (PiS) (all conservative) opposed it. Samoobrona was indifferent and the Polish People's Party (PSL) did not take a position.
The previous Polish government, led by the PiS party, planned to amend the Polish constitution to constitutionally ban any recognition of same-sex relationships.
A new Registered Partnership bill was proposed to the government of PO and Polish People's Party in late 2007. However the government rejected this proposal. It was the third bill since public debate on same-sex unions had begun in 2000. The first one to recognise unregistered cohabiting couples (including same-sex) was proposed in 2002. In 2008 a new fourth bill on registered partnerships was being prepared by opposition Alliance of the Democratic Left. However this project had no chances of being passed in the parliament. In the end, Alliance of the Democratic Left did not introduce a bill.
The next debate about the legalization of same-sex registered partnerships began in June 2009. Gay and Lesbian organisations submitted the petition on the matter to the Speaker of the Sejm Bronisław Komorowski (PO). The political climate also changed, in which some politicians from the parties opposed to the legalization of same-sex unions like PO] or PiS, including Jerzy Buzek (PO) and Michał Kamiński (PiS), are expressing opinion about the need to regulate certain issues of the same-sex couples. Similarly, in this regard, the attitude changed also with some representatives of the church. On January 2010 the opposition SLD), in consultation with Gay and Lesbian organisations is preparing a new draft law on registered partnerships. The new bill will be modeled on the same one approved the Senate in 2004 and similar to the French Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS) law. However, the bill has no chances to be passed in the current parliament since the other parties PO, PiS and PSL announced that they will not support the bill.
On 17 May 2011, the SLD presented a draft law on registered partnership, which will regulate the relationship of same-sex and opposite-sex unmarried couples. This project is similar to the French PACS law. Agnieszka Pomaska, Deputy Secretary General of the PO declares that it is time to hold discussions about the legal legitimize informal relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual and that PO is open to talk about Registered Partnerships. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (PO) has declared that the law on registered partnerships would be passed at the beginning of the next term of the Sejm. His statement confirms Speaker of the Sejm Grzegorz Schetyna (PO), who also declare that this bill will not be put to a vote in parliament in this term. Nevertheless, the bill is still in the Sejm and pass procedures to parliamentary debate. Krzysztof Tyszkiewicz, Spokesman of the Parliamentary Club of the Civic Platform party (PO) declared that PO would support proposed by the SLD Bill on registered partnership agreement, but only after the parliamentary elections in October 2011. However, after receiving the petition in favor of the registered partnership agreement bill, signed with 23,500 people, Speaker Schetyna declared that is likely to submit the bill to the first reading into the Parliament after 10 July 2011 (parliamentary session on 26–29 July).
The Supreme Court of Poland has expressed its comments to the SLD's proposed draft law on registered partnerships, which was adopted on first reading in the Sejm, before the elections on 9 October 2011. In its comments, the Court undermines the legitimacy of further work on this bill, because of the numerous legal deficiencies. At the same time states that the institutionalization of opposite-sex couples cohabitation is inadmissible in connection with the wording of Art. 18 of the Polish Constitution. Regarding lasting relationships of same-sex couples, states that the admissibility and scope of any statutory regulation requires an analysis taking into account international legal obligations, and to consider the consequences that may result from the recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. However, regulation similar to the marriage is excluded, without the prior amendment of Art. 18 of the Constitution. According to Professor Miroslaw Wyrzykowski, head of the Department of Human Rights at the Faculty of Law of University of Warsaw, a former judge of the Polish Constitutional Court, the Constitution requires the introduction of civil partnerships.
After the parliamentary elections held on 9 October 2011, Janusz Palikot, the leader of the Palikot's Movement (RP) has declared that a draft law on civil partnerships will be one of the first draft laws submitted to the parliament. Leszek Miller, head of the Parliamentary Club of the SLD, announces the re-assembly of the parliament a draft law on registered partnership agreement, the same one who did not manage to adopt the previous parliament. Rafał Grupiński, vice president of the Parliamentary Club of the PO announced that during the vote on the draft law on civil partnerships there will be no a discipline in its club. Stanisław Żelichowski, head of the Parliamentary Club of the PSL believes that the SLD's draft law on civil partnerships is located in the remote location in order of priority issues which should address the new parliament. In July 2011 (the previous parliament) on the joint meeting of the Social and Family Policy commission and Justice and Human Rights commission held the first reading of the registered partnership agreement bill. Out of the 67 (32 PO, 23 PiS, 7 SLD, 2 PSL, 3 non-attached) members of both committees 29 supported the project, 10 voted against with 3 abstentions. Only PiS refused to future work on the project. Witold Waszczykowski, Member of the PiS has declared its support for the initiative legalizing same-sex unions.
The new draft law on Registered Partnerships based on that adopted by the Senate in 2004 (similar to the Scandinavian model, not a French PACS), which regulates unions between same-sex only would be prepared and submitted to parliament in early December 2011 as a joint initiative of SLD and RP. Support for a such law beyond SLD and RP declares PO, though not all members of the party will support it. PSL does not take a firm position on this, but after the vote on the bill at the PSL, there are voices saying that the party would actually support it. Only PiS objects, although not all its members, like e.g. Witold Waszczykowski.
Agnieszka Kozlowska-Rajewicz, government plenipotentiary for equal treatment, considers adopting the law on civil partnerships as one of its priorities. Although she says, that the ideal would be to introduce the right to marry by the pairs. She says also that civil partnerships similar to the French PACS law is the optimal form for which there is an agreement at the moment. Moreover, she believes that this law would be enacted even in this term of the parliament. Also the government report – Poland 2030 Third wave of modernity – Long-term National Development Strategy assumes in the perspective of the next five years (until 2015), equalization of rights of people who live in the informal but solid relationships. It is possible that finally PO will submit its own draft law on civil partnerships. Arthur Dunin (PO), author of the initiative, says that many PO parliamentarians sees the need for such a project, provided that they do not go too far. This law would give the possibility of formal recognition of the partnerships both for same-sex and different-sex couples and would be similar to the French PACS law. Such a draft law also has the support of conservative members of the PO.
On 13 January 2012, the SLD and the RP jointly presented two draft laws on civil partnerships that intend to submit this month to the Sejm. The first bill is the same that failed to adopt the previous Sejm, similar to the French PACS law (for same-sex and opposite-sex couples), and another new draft law on civil partnerships similar to the Scandinavian model (for same-sex couples only). Also, the PO intends to submit in January, own the third bill similar to the French PACS law, with particular difference from the marriage (as necessary to be consistent with the Constitution). On 17 February 2012 RP and SLD jointly submitted to the Sejm two bills on registered partnerships. Also, PO prepared its own third bill, which will be submitted to the parliament probably in April this year, after previous consultation in their own parliamentary club. On 28 June, the Legislative Committee expressed the opinion that both bills are unconstitutional. On 24 July, the majority of members of the lower house of the Parliament voted against the submission for first reading of two bills of civil partnerships proposed by SLD and RP. One day later, the Civic Platform has proposed its own bill on the "civil partnership agreement", which is expected to be submitted to the parliament in September.
All three drafts were rejected on 25 January 2013 by the plenary session of the Sejm, most narrowly the bill proposed by the Civic Platform with 211 deputies supporting and 228 deputies rejecting submission of the bill to committees for further examination.
In 2004, Warsaw's Municipal Transport Authority decision to allow cohabiting partners of gay and lesbian employees to travel free on the city's public transport system was the first case of recognition of same-sex couples in Poland. In 2007, a decision of Chorzów’s City Center of Social Assistance recognized homosexual relationships. The decision declined to concede social assistance to one partner, recognizing that according to law, persons living in a common relationship in the same household are a family, so that the partner is obligated to care for the first one.
At the end of 2010, the Court in Złotów decided, that the communal apartment after a dead woman to be her partner. The municipality appealed the verdict, the District Court in Poznań, however, rejected the appeal. Thus, the decision of the Court in Złotów became final. "The court found that these women actually remained in a stable partnership. Any other interpretation would lead to discrimination based on sexual orientation," said president of the District Court in Złotów, Adam Jutrzenka-Trzebiatowski. In support of the judge relied, inter alia, European Convention on Human Rights – for the first time in Poland. This is a precedent and courageous decision after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in case Kozak v. Poland that homosexuals have the right to inherit from their partners.
The European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that homosexuals have the right to inherit from their partners.
Social attitudes and public opinion
A 2010 study published in the newspaper Rzeczpospolita revealed that Poles overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage and the adoption of children by gay couples. 80% of Poles opposed gay marriage and 93% of Poles opposed the adoption of children by gay couples.
A majority of Poles also oppose gay parades - a 2008 study revealed that 66% of Poles believe that gay people should not have the right to organize public demonstrations, 69% of Poles believe that gay people should not have the right to show their way of life. Also, 37% of Poles believe that gay people should have the right to engage in sexual activity, with 37% believing they should not.
In a 2013 opinion poll conducted by CBOS, 65% of Poles were against same-sex civil unions, 72% of Poles were against same-sex marriage, 88% were against adoption by same-sex couples, and 68% were against gays and lesbians publicly showing their way of life.
Support for LGBT rights in Poland
|Poles support for gay rights (CBOS poll)||2001||2002||2003||2005||2008||2010||2011||2013|
|Support for "registered partnerships" (CBOS poll)||opposite-sex couples||same-sex couples|
|"registered partnerships" (VI 2011)||83%||10%||25%||65%|
|"registered partnerships" (II 2013)||85%||11%||33%||60%|
|Poles support for gay rights (PBS poll)||2013|
|Poles support for gay rights (TNS OBOP poll)||2011|
|Support for "registered partnerships" (OBOP poll)||opposite-sex couples||same-sex couples|
|"registered partnerships" (III 2013)||67%||34%||47%||53%|
|Poles support for gay rights (Homo Homini poll)||2013|
|Support for "registered partnerships" 2012 (CEAPP poll)||opposite-sex couples||same-sex couples|
|"right to obtain medical information"||86%||-||68%||-|
|"right to inherit"||78%||-||57%||-|
|"rights to common tax accounting"||75%||-||55%||-|
|"right to inherit the pension of a deceased partner"||75%||-||55%||-|
|"right to a refund in vitro treatments"||58%||-||20%||-|
|"right to adopt a child"||65%||-||16%||-|
- LGBT rights in Poland
- List of LGBT rights by region
- Timeline of LGBT history
- Homosexuality laws of the world
- Same-sex marriage in the European Union
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