Jacek Jaśkowiak, the mayor of Poznań competing for the Civic Platform nomination for President has backed gay marriage and signalled he is inclined to support euthanasia.
The last-minute candidate in the Presidential primary election the party is organising turns out to be Jacek Jaśkowiak, the Mayor of Poznań. Mr...see more
The Mayor of Poznań, Jacek Jaśkowiak, who is standing in the Civic Platform Presidential primary election has backed same sex marriage and said he understood those who want to end their lives undergoing voluntary euthanasia. His opponent, and favourite to be nominated, Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, is unlikely to do so.
Mr Jaśkowiak in both press and electronic media interviews has said that if he would have been elected President he would sign legislation introducing civil partnerships. When asked whether he was prepared to go further and support same sex marriage, he said that he would do it.
On euthanasia Poznań’s mayor presented a more nuanced position. He argued that he would want to have a say when his life ends, if he was very ill. But he acknowledged that for others life was sacred and because of that not to be ended voluntarily.
Jacek Jaśkowiak has also expressed his support for a woman’s right to choose abortion. He was broadly in favour of liberalising the current restrictive abortion legislation, but argued that he would never advocate abortion and that decisions on having one should be preceded by consultations with specialists.
Civic Platform’s compromise position
Mr Jaśkowiak’s position goes well beyond the compromise adopted by his party. The PO has finally come out in favour of civil partnerships. But the party has in its ranks both social conservatives as well as liberals and has stopped well short of any acceptance of gay marriage. The party has never approached the issue of euthanasia and supports the current legislation on abortion.
It is significant that the PO’s mayors in large metropolitan cities such as Poznań and Warsaw have been supportive of LGBT causes whereas the party at national level has been reticent. They have been worried about alienating voters in smaller towns and rural areas who tend to be more conservative in their cultural outlook.
LGBT rights featured prominently in the European and Parliamentary elections this year. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) have responded to LGBT demonstrations such as ‘equality parades’ by saying they would never accept same sex marriage and arguing strongly against LGBT sex education in schools.
PiS have sided with the Catholic Church on LGBT rights. Some conservative bishops, such as Marek Jędraszewski, the Archbishop of Kraków, have voiced strong opposition to “LGBT ideology” calling it a “plague” much alike to communism that came before it.
But PiS is in dispute with the Church over abortion. The party has so far avoided the Church’s call for the tightening up of the law on abortion following a series of demonstrations (“black protests”) which were held following the filing of a citizens legislative petition by pro-life organizations.
The Polish constitution very clearly defines marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. And to change that constitutionally a 2/3 majority is required. And that is a steep hill to climb for those campaigning for same sex marriage.
It is also worth noting that when Poland joined the EU it was promised that there would be no attempts to force it to adopt either gay marriage nor liberalize its abortion law. It is on that understanding that the Catholic Church and PiS backed Polish membership of the EU in the referendum that took place in the early noughties.
Conflicts over LGBT rights, abortion and in future euthanasia may become the defining divide in Polish politics. Especially if the Left begins to displace the Civic Platform as the main opposition to PiS.
Religion, defining a family and the very existence of a sovereign nation state are emerging as the battle grounds that raise more passion than economic or social policy. On the one hand we have conservatives who want Poland to remain true to its historic loyalties to the Catholic Church with families composed of men, women and children and as a sovereign nation state. On the other side we have the liberals and the left who want to see the Church’s influence reduced, families redefined and singles life-styles accepted as well as to have Poland a part of even more confederal European Union.
Mr Jaśkowiak is being honest about which side he is on. This may be because he has little or no chance of winning the nomination. Or it may be a sign of an emerging debate in the liberal centre of Polish politics on its very future.