The government of Poland was planning to withdraw from a 2015 European pact aimed at preventing abuse against women as some of its elements were deemed to be “harmful.”
A report by Al Jazeera over the weekend said that Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro will submit on Monday a request to the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy to withdraw from the treaty known as the Istanbul Convention.
Ziobro told a news briefing over the weekend that the pact “contained elements of an ideological nature, which we consider harmful,” specifically its provision to require schools to teach about gender which was said to be violating parents’ rights.
The government said that the pact was disrespectful towards religion and required teaching liberal social policies in schools, albeit it stopped short of a decision to quit in the past.
Ziobro added that Poland has had enough reforms in recent years that sufficiently protect women.
Poland was considered as one of the worst countries in Europe for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgenders’ rights.
The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and its coalition partners were closely aligned to the Catholic Church’s views, while the government has promised to promote traditional family values.
Hostility against gay rights was also one of Polish President Andrzej Dudas’ winning cards during his presidential campaign in 2015. He had described the promotion of LGBT rights as “ideology” more destructive than communism.
On Friday, thousands of Polish mostly women, stormed the streets and other cities to campaign for the withdrawal from the treaty.
“The aim is to legalise domestic violence,” said Magdalena Lempart, one of the protest organisers, at a march in Warsaw.
Some protesters carried banners saying “PiS is the women’s hell.”
Meanwhile, Council of Europe Secretary-General Marija Pejčinović Burić said that Poland’s proposed withdrawal was alarming.
“The Istanbul Convention is the Council of Europe‘s key international treaty to combat violence against women and domestic violence – and that is its sole objective. If there are any misconceptions or misunderstandings about the Convention, we are ready to clarify them in a constructive dialogue,” she said.
“Leaving the Istanbul Convention would be highly regrettable and a major step backwards in the protection of women against violence in Europe,” she added.
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