Gay couple legal rights compulsory, says ECHR

Dec 20, 2023

The European Court of Human Rights ruled last week that the lack of legal recognition for same-sex couples in Poland breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a press release the Court stated that Poland has a duty to provide a specific legal framework to give recognition and protection to same-sex unions.

For some years the Court has been moving towards the view that states have a duty to provide legal recognition for same-sex couples. If not quite a right to same-sex marriage, it is something close: a right to legal recognition of same-sex unions.

Of course, this is not a human right that the original drafters of the 1950 Convention had in mind.

The problem is that the Court took upon itself in 1978 the right to interpret the Convention as a ‘living instrument’. Under this concept, the Court deems itself free to add and adapt ‘human rights’ and ‘state duties’ as social mores change.

This has meant that activists unable to win through the ballot box have sought to achieve victories through the Court.

This is not how the Court was supposed to work and clearly risks bringing itself and the Convention into disrepute. As the supposed list of a state’s fundamental duties grows ever longer, a sovereign nation’s policies are tossed aside and replaced with supranational judicial diktats.

The irony is that it is real marriage supporters who have used human rights laws as they were originally intended: to protect the citizen from the arbitrary exercise of state power. This includes protecting free speech, meaning both the freedom to express your beliefs (e.g. Felix Ngole, Kristie Higgs) and the freedom not to be forced to say things you don’t believe (Ashers Baking Company). Used this way, human rights laws temper equality and anti-discrimination legislation that is often weaponised by activists against ideological dissenters.

At C4M we are dismayed to see the Court abusing its position to foist unwelcome LGBT policies on Poland. We call on the Court to return to the original intended meaning of the Convention and focus on protecting citizens from arbitrary state power, not pushing forward unpopular agendas.