Conservative governments across Eastern Europe oppose the Istanbul Convention, the treaty designed to protect women against all forms of violence.

Earlier this week, Poland moved to replace Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe treaty designed to eliminate gender based violence. Poland’s ruling party is closely aligned to the Catholic Church and opposes the treaty for disrupting traditional family values.

Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Slovakia also refuse to ratify the treaty.

Poland’s decision comes shortly after Turkey officially withdrew from the Convention. Turkey says some articles in the treaty “normalized homosexuality”. The decision sparked nation-wide protests and international condemnation.

“Retrieve the Decision. Apply the Convention” Istanbul, Turkey

What is the Istanbul Convention?

The formal name is Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. Turkey was the first signatory and the treaty is named after the city of Istanbul.

Why the opposition?

Conservative governments in Eastern Europe and Turkey believe the treaty disrupts traditional gender roles.

Polish woman with a Women’s Strike sign on her hand. Warsaw, Poland.

Hungary refuses to ratify, citing “destructive gender ideologies”.

Poland wants to adopt a new treaty defining “family” as a union between woman and man.

Turkey says the treaty was “hijacked by the LGBT community”.

Bulgarian constitutional court opposes the treaty’s definition of “gender” as a social construct.

Istanbul Convention is the first and most prominent international document designed to prevent gender-based violence. Human rights defenders, LGBTI+ activists and feminists strongly oppose its annulment.

Demonstrations in Istanbul, Turkey
Bulgaria demonstration in support for ratification. Sofia, Bulgaria  
Women’s Strike protest. Warsaw, Poland
“Istanbul Convention not Flowers” Lviv, Ukraine
Pride March. Budapest, Hungary.

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