In what will be welcomed as a baby step toward equality, Poland’s officials announced this week that the nation’s registry offices will begin issuing new certificates that will allow Poles abroad to marry or engage in a civil union/partnership with same-sex partners.
Previous to this there had been a section calling for the disclosure of the identity of the future spouse meaning that the registrar, identifying the couple as same-sex, could refuse to sign.
“Work is already underway and there will be a new type of certificate without the section concerning future spouses,” Ministry spokeswoman Małgorzata Woźniak told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
The Campaign Against Homophobia says it has numerous examples of gay and lesbians being refused the certificate which would enable them to marry in the UK, Spain, the Netherlands or other countries where same-sex civil unions are legal.
Same-sex partnerships and marriages will not, however, be honored by Poland itself.
Homosexuality in Poland has often been a flash-point for protest and even violence, but there is evidence that tolerance is on the rise. Earlier this year Krystian Legierski became the first openly gay politician elected to political office in Poland, gaining a seat on the Warsaw city council.
Still, a recent report found that 80% of Poles oppose same-sex marriage and oppose joint adoption rights for same-sex couples. It also took the recent intervention of the European Court of Human Rights to ensure that same-sex couples were being given appropriate cohabiting rights.
Yet any progress, no matter how slight, is cause for recognition.