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Poland lawmakers reject proposed civil union legislation

Lawmakers for the Sejm of the Republic of Poland [official website] on Friday dismissed three pieces of proposed legislation that would have given restricted legal rights to unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples by way of civil union. The legislation collectively sought to grant unmarried couples a means of official registration as legal entities with rights including the ability to inherit property without taxation and to access protected information normally available only to married couples. Poland's first openly gay lawmaker and Palikot Movement party member Robert Biedron [personal website, in Polish] introduced two of the draft bills while the third was introduced by Prime Minister Donald Tusk [official website, in Polish] of the Civic Ruling party. The proposed legislation marks the first time [WSJ report] that Polish lawmakers have considered granting rights historically reserved for married couples to unmarried couples, and the issue has proven to be both contentious and polarizing. Poland's more conservative political contingent has reportedly challenged the legislation as an attack on long-standing Catholic traditions that seek to promote and incentivize family stability and procreation. Conversely, Poland's more liberal wing, including the Palikot Movement, has called for fundamental and practical fairness to unmarried couples allegedly impeded by law from resolving day-to-day issues. Polish lawmakers have expressed plans to bring new proposals before parliament in the future.

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] and correlated rights remain a controversial issue around the world. In November, the Polish Supreme Court declared for the first time [JURIST report] that same-sex partners living together could retain the same legal standing as heterosexual couples in regard to taking over a lease if their romantic partner with whom they were cohabiting should die. In August Germany's Justice Ministry introduced legislation [JURIST report] that would grant several additional marriage rights to couples in same-sex civil unions. Also in August the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled [JURIST report] that homosexual couples in a civil union should receive the same tax benefits as heterosexual married couples. In June Denmark's Parliament voted to approve a bill [JURIST report] that legalized same-sex marriages in the country's state Lutheran church ceremonies when before couples were required to conduct ceremonies at the end of services.

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