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On Thursday, the lower house of the Polish Parliament held a vote on the “Yes to Family, No to Gender” legislative project initiated by the catholic-fundamentalist organization Ordo Iuris. Nearly the entire Civic Coalition and the Left voted to reject the draft law in the first reading. Thanks to the votes of the ruling Law and Justice party and the nationalist-libertarian Confederation, however, the project has been referred for consideration by the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, and the justice and human rights committee.

A total of 250 MPs, including 226 representatives of the ruling Law and Justice party, voted in favor of the project. Joanna Lichocka was the only one voting against it.

The Convention on the Rights of the Family, which the initiative proposes to adopt in the place of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (known as the Istanbul Convention), is a draft treaty defining family as a union between a man and a woman. At the same time, it denounces the Istanbul Convention as based on "gender ideology". "Recognizing that the ineffective and ideologically-driven solutions contained in the Istanbul Convention not only fail to protect the family and its members from pathological behavior such as violence but also lead to their intensification" – the document reads.

250 głosów za projektem Ordo Iuris.250 głosów za projektem Ordo Iuris. sejm.gov.pl

Laying out the purpose of the alternative convention, on its website, Ordo Iuris writes: “The Convention clarifies the meaning of concepts related to the functioning of the family. It defines such terms as "marriage", "sex", "the best interests of the child" or "violence" on the basis of what the legal doctrine has achieved to date. Its adoption is aimed at preventing attempts to undermine the identity of marriage as a union between a man and a woman and at reduction of the number of unjustified removal of children from families. The Convention also aims at improving the prevention of domestic violence”.

-The government and the ruling camp have given up on fighting the pandemic, while all the cynics cozying up to the right wing are trying to make as much money as possible before the state goes bankrupt. I mean, what better way to cover up the whole tragedy and mess than by pitting people against gender and defending the traditional right to beat women and children? – says the Left party MP Anita Kucharska-Dziedzic.

Commenting on the project and the attempts to replace the Istanbul Convention, Urszula Nowakowska, the head of the Center for Women's Rights, writes:

"The draft is based on false premises and misunderstandings. It flagrantly contradicts scientific knowledge and internationally recognized values. The standards adopted in the Convention to Prevent and Combat Violence Against Women are universally recognized by the experts of the Council of Europe, the European Union, and UN agencies" – Ms. Nowakowska wrote, urging MPs to vote against the "Yes to Family, No to Gender" project. She added that only two member countries of the Council of Europe (Russia and Azerbaijan) have not signed the convention, and one, Turkey under the Erdogan regime, has denounced it, violating the country's constitution, which requires that the withdrawal be approved by the parliament. "Does Poland really want to join this 'elite' club of undemocratic countries that have not joined the convention or have denounced it?" - she asked rhetorically.

After today's vote, there’s no doubt about it. Poland's withdrawal from the Istanbul convention is only a matter of time. A short time.

Aleksandra Magryta, the coordinator of the Grand Coalition for Equality and Choice, said: - The Istanbul Convention, also known as the Anti-Violence Convention, obliges the authorities to implement effective strategies to combat violence against women. Because it is mostly women who suffer violence. All the statistics clearly show that violence has a gender. Why, then, did as many as 250 Members vote to denounce the convention?

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