Polish official: Istanbul Convention could impose ‘leftist ideology’

Women with banners 'We want Power not Violence' protest against Polish government's plans of termination of Istanbul Convention at the Main Square in Katowice, Poland, 31 July 2020. [Andrzej Grigiel/EPA/EFE]

Poland’s conservative nationalist government cranked up its campaign against Europe’s accord on violence against women, calling it a tool for the EU to foist “leftist ideology” on unwilling member states.

Warsaw deems the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention too liberal and the new row over it could worsen friction between the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) and European Union institutions alarmed at a perceived erosion of democratic standards and rights in Poland.

The PiS has targeted the convention since its presidential candidate narrowly won re-election in July after a campaign that inveighed against LGBT rights. PiS officials have signalled they want to start procedures to leave the pact as part of efforts to cement a socially conservative agenda for years to come.

“It’s a document that can in a few years be used to push for a change in law on abortion, for example. It’s a convention that makes a number of extreme leftist assumptions,” Sebastian Kaleta, a deputy justice minister, told Reuters this week.

He said the convention could also be used to increase migrant flows. “These men who a few years ago crossed the sea to European countries would say at the first control (point) that they feel they are women or genderless…and will ask for asylum as the convention allows (for this),” Kaleta said.

Poland has been among the most vocal critics of the EU’s migrant relocation programmes and has some of Europe’s most restrictive rules surrounding abortion.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki last week said Poland’s potential departure from the convention would be assessed by its constitutional court.

'Alarm' at Poland's plan to leave treaty protecting women

The EU and the Council of Europe on Sunday (26 July) voiced regret and alarm over the Polish right-wing government’s move to withdraw from a landmark international treaty combating violence against women.

Since the election, the European Commission has threatened to cut off funding to Polish regions declaring themselves free of what they call LGBT “ideology”, hoping to deter what it sees as Poland’s backsliding on women’s and LGBT rights.

EU chief backs LGBT rights in row with Poland

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen defended LGBT rights on Thursday (30 July) after a row erupted over the EU’s refusal of grants to towns in Poland accused of discrimination.

Kaleta said such moves would violate EU treaties and called for a shake-up in the Commission.

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