Justice Department filed for withdrawal from convention on domestic violence

Poland’s Ministry of Justice has sent a request to the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy to undertake the necessary work to withdraw from the Council of Europe’s so-called Istanbul Convention on combatting domestic violence.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro announced his intention to withdraw from the convention on Saturday, arguing that it contained provisions of an “ideological nature” with which the ministry disagrees.

“Today I filed a formal application to the minister of family, labour and social policy – which is the ministry competent to initiate the formal process related to withdrawing from that convention – to undertake the necessary work in that respect,” the justice minister stated during a Monday press conference, adding that the request was official and formally submitted by him as justice minister.

On Saturday, Ziobro explained the decision arguing that the convention’s provisions include “constructing the so-called socio-cultural gender in opposition to biological sex.” In his opinion, Poland does not accept this and considers it harmful.

According to Ziobro, “this ideological element” is linked to the imperative to change the education of children in terms of attitude towards gender and that there is no consent on the part of the justice ministry for teaching that biological sex is archaic and actually comes down to a socio-cultural context.

In his opinion, the convention’s articles concerning the education of children and young people as well as family relationships in the LGBT context are not acceptable.

Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Romanowski said of the convention on Monday that its signing had been done in haste and had let a “left-wing, gender Trojan horse” into Poland’s legal system.

He argued that the convention “in many places is not only against the value system of the Polish legal system but simply counter to basic laws, such as parental laws and upbringing in line with peoples’ own convictions or religious and moral upbringing as well as the principle of the state’s neutral worldview.”

He went on to say that Poland was not alone in its doubts as to the Istanbul Convention and that many other countries of the region had not ratified it.

The Council of Europe’s 2011 convention on the prevention and combatting of domestic violence and violence against women (the Istanbul Convention) is intended to protect women from all forms of violence and discrimination; it is based on the idea that discrimination is related to violence and the fight against stereotypes makes counteracting violence more effective. Poland signed the convention in December 2012 and ratified it in 2015.

Not all EU countries ratified the convention. Those that did not were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia as well as Great Britain, Ukraine, Moldova and Armenia.

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