Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said he is asking his country’s top constitutional court to study Europe’s Istanbul Convention against domestic violence before his government decides whether to exit the pact.
Poland’s government has described the treaty as “ideologically tainted” and Mr Morawiecki has said the convention raised “serious doubts”, indicating he was leaning toward exiting the convention.
The Istanbul Convention – an initiative of the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organisation – is billed as a key international treaty to combat violence against women and domestic violence.
It states that men and women have equal rights and obliges state authorities to take steps to prevent violence against women, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.
Poland’s previous liberal government ratified it in 2015.
Critics of the convention say that it is not in line with Poland’s legal system, wrongly identifies the sources of violence against women and fails to provide effective tools for fighting domestic violence.
The government also believes the convention wrongly links religion to violence, and Mr Morawiecki insisted that Poland’s own legislation already offers strong protection to domestic violence victims.
Mr Morawiecki said he has asked the Constitutional Tribunal to check the translation into Polish of “gender”. The word is sensitive to the conservative ruling Law and Justice party, which often sees it as representative of LGBT rights and a threat to Poland’s Roman Catholic family values.
The convention, which came into force in 2014, has been signed by 45 European countries and the European Union, but 10 countries – including the UK, Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic – have yet to ratify it.
Many Poles have protested Poland’s desire to withdraw from the treaty and Council of Europe leaders have said such a move “would be highly regrettable and a major step backwards in the protection of women against violence in Europe”.
It was not clear when a final decision could be expected.