Human rights court rules Poland should recognize same-sex partnerships

WARSAW, Poland — Poland has violated the right to respect for a private life by failing to offer legal recognition for same-sex couples, the European Court of Human Rights said on Tuesday, putting pressure on Donald Tusk’s new government to quickly change the law.

Ten Poles argued that the vast majority of Council of Europe member states offered same-sex couples a right to marry or to enter into registered civil unions, and asserted that they were disadvantaged, for example in the fields of taxation, social rights and family law.

“The Court considered that the Polish State had failed to comply with its duty to ensure that the applicants had a specific legal framework providing for the recognition and protection of their same-sex unions,” it said in a statement.

“That failure had resulted in the applicants’ inability to regulate fundamental aspects of their lives and amounted to a breach of their right to respect for their private and family life.”

The case dates back to the rule of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, which was effectively ended after eight years on Monday when parliament backed a new pro-European government under Tusk to take power after October’s election.

PiS says that extending marriage and adoption to gay couples threatens traditional family structures and is harmful for children. It also says that teaching about LGBTQ issues in schools results in children being sexualized.

Tusk had said during the election campaign that his party would introduce a provision for same-sex partnerships and he considered it a priority.

As a sign of his government’s dedication to fighting discrimination, Tusk’s cabinet will be the first to include a minister for equality, Katarzyna Kotula, a politician from the New Left party forming part of his pro-European coalition.

“It’s a good day. The time of discrimination is coming to an end. We know that we are all different, but we are equal. We will ensure equality for all — which is guaranteed by … the Constitution,” she wrote on social media platform X.

Tusk will face a vote of confidence in parliament later on Tuesday and his government could be sworn in on Wednesday morning.

ECHR rulings are binding on members of the Council of Europe, an organization separate from the European Union, but some remain outstanding for years.

The Love Does Not Exclude Association which supported the applicants in court said the ruling would result in “serious pressure” on the government to introduce same-sex partnerships.

“Since the new government wants to rebuild Poland’s reputation … and prove that the rule of law crisis has ended, it will not be able to ignore the voices of international bodies such as the tribunal,” it said in a statement.


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