Poland preparing to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention?

Polish labour minister Marlena Maląg told Catholic Radio Maryja that Poland is preparing to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention as Polish Catholic organisations petition against continued Polish participation.

Poland signed the Istanbul Convention for the prevention and combating of violence against women and domestic violence in 2015. The decision came during the life-time of the liberal administration led by the Civic Platform (PO).

According to critics of the convention it uses the laudable objectives of combating domestic violence and discrimination against women in order to force through gender ideology that Catholic and pro-family organisations consider to be alien to Polish family traditions.

Law and Justice on coming to power in 2015 promised that it would withdraw Poland from the Istanbul Convention. However, this has not happened as yet. Ms Maląg’s remarks indicate that this may be about to change.

Minister Maląg, who is responsible for family policy in the government, says that “Poland has filed objections to the convention and we have until the end of the year to clarify our intentions. We will be working with the ministry of foreign affairs and the justice ministry in order to prepare legislation”. She stated that the legislation is highly likely to lead to Poland withdrawing from the Convention.

Last Thursday the Catholic Social Congress and the Ordo Iuris institute announced that they will be collecting signatures for a petition “Yes for the family, no to gender” which aims at getting Poland out of the Istanbul Convention and to formulate an International Convention for family rights instead. According to former Speaker of the Polish Lower House of Parliament Marek Jurek the “International Convention for Family Rights” could lead to cooperation between those EU member states which identify with family values”.

Catholic legal think tank Ordo Iuris views the Istanbul Convention as an attempt to impose gender ideology. It believes that the Convention condemns both the traditional model of the family, as well as the Catholic faith by making out both to be responsible for domestic violence. All states which sign it commit themselves to propagate its ideological basis.


Law and Justice (PiS) have been crystal clear that they support family values and the Catholic Church. This is why they were never going to be comfortable with a convention that regards the church and the traditional family unit as potential causes of domestic violence.

Any decision for Poland to withdraw from the convention will infuriate liberal and left wing politicians. They will accuse the ruling party of failing to protect women from domestic violence.

However, a declaration is an ideological commitment and not legislation of policy to protect women from domestic violence. Surely it is more important what actually gets done to prevent domestic violence and to help its victims. It is by this yardstick, rather than whether controversially worded conventions get signed, that the government and its backers should be judged.