Poland will take action next week to withdraw from a European treaty on violence against women, which the right-wing government says violates parental rights by requiring schools to teach children gender, said the justice minister.

Zbigniew Ziobro said his ministry will make a request to the ministry of labor and families on Monday to begin the process of withdrawing from the treaty, known as the Istanbul Convention.

“It contains elements of an ideological nature, which we believe are harmful,” said Ziobro at a press conference on Saturday.

Zbigniew Ziobro says his ministry will move on Monday to begin the treaty withdrawal process [Kacper Pempel/Reuters]

Poland’s ruling and justice party (PiS) and its coalition partners align themselves closely with the Catholic Church and promote a conservative social agenda.

Hostility to gay rights was one of the main issues promoted by President Andrzej Duda during a successful election campaign this month.

On Friday, thousands of people, mostly women, protested in Warsaw and other cities against proposals to reject the treaty.


Protesters hold “Let us live” and “Women’s Strike” banners during Friday’s demonstration in the capital, Warsaw [Wojtek Radwanski/AFP]

“The goal is to legalize domestic violence,” said one of the protest organizers Magdalena Lempart on a march in Warsaw on Friday. Some protesters carried banners that said “PiS is women’s hell”.

PiS has long complained about the Istanbul Convention, which Poland ratified under a previous centrist government in 2015.

The government says the treaty is disrespectful to religion and requires the teaching of liberal social policies in schools, although in the past it has stopped short of a decision to quit.

Ziobro represents a smaller right-wing party within the ruling coalition.

A government spokesman was not available on Saturday to comment on whether Ziobro’s announcement of plans to exit the treaty represented a collective government decision.

The World Health Organization says domestic violence has grown in Europe this year during months of blockade aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic.

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