European Parliament considers Polish petition favoring same-sex couples
Published on Thu, 2011-10-06 08:13
The European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions discussed on Tuesday a formal complaint submitted last year by the Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH, focal point of Social Watch in Poland) against the regulations that prevent same-sex couples to formalize their relationship abroad.
The Committee analyzed the petition presented by Robert Biedron, who leads KPH, accusing Warsaw of “unwillingness to issue certificates of civil status to Polish citizens wishing to enter into a registered partnership with a person of the same sex in another member state” of the European Union.
Biedron argued that Polish registry offices frequently refuse to issue certificates that are required by foreign institutions to process a same sex legal partnership.
On the other hand, Irena Lipowicz, Poland’s Civil Rights Ombudsman, told the committee that the matter had already been addressed by the government.
Lipowicz said that the Ministry of Interior had already instructed registry offices to desist from not issuing the relevant certificates.
In its petition, KPH referred to the fact that “when a Polish citizen contracts marriage or a registered partnership abroad, he or she must submit a certificate of civil status issued by the competent Polish authorities”.
However, Biedron noted that the Polish authorities refuse to issue civil status certificates to Polish citizens wishing to enter into a registered partnership with a person of the same sex in another [EU] Member State and are thus contravening a number of principles and legal acts adopted by the EU, including the ban on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and the right of freedom of movement”.
The Campaign called on the European Parliament to force the Polish government to review its practices.
KPH has been monitoring this situation for years as it has received numerous complaints from Polish gays and lesbians who want to either enter a domestic partnership or get married in another EU country to a person of the same sex.
To enter into such a union they are required to prove they are not married in Poland. The Registry Office refuses them this certificate when it becomes clear that they are lesbian or gay.
KPH sent its petition to the Committee to take up this case and received the support of the international law firm Arnold & Porter LLP in the form of an amicus curiae who argued that this is a violation of the freedom of movement as well as the right to respect of privacy and family life.
A representative of the European Commission present at the session claimed that the Commission is “sympathetic” to the fate of gays and lesbians, but did not see any competencies of the EC in this matter and mistook the petition as dealing with the recognition by Poland of same-sex unions.
The Commission said that the refusal to issue certificates of civil status to Polish citizens did not infringe the right of freedom of movement and that the issuing of certificates of civil status is the exclusive responsibility of the Member States.
The European Commission is examining the question of recognition of civil status records in the European Union in order that citizens’ marriages and partnerships may be taken into consideration in countries other than those in which they were contracted.