Poland court rules in favour of homophobic campaign claiming it is 'informative'

Poland has been experiencing a surge in anti-LGBT+ rhetoric over the past year and it's prevalence is now being felt in the country's legal system.

Image: Rainbow Europe

A court in Poland has ruled in favour of a campaign that connected homosexuality and paedophilia, saying it was “informative” and that it raised awareness.

Bartłomiej Ciążyński, brought the Polish non-governmental organisation, Fundacja Pro, to court for their homophobic campaign.

The group’s campaign involved a van that drove around which flew a banner that said “Paedophilia is 20 times more common in homosexuals. They want to teach your children. Stop them!”.

Ciążyński, a lawyer from Poland, argued that the campaign “insulted, slandered and violated the dignity” of the LGBT+ community, but the district judge Adam Maciński disagreed.

In his ruling, he said the campaign “should be considered as having an informative and social dimension” saying it highlighted the issue of paedophilia.

He added: “It illustrates the issue of paedophilia to the public, as well as differences in the way sex education is implemented among minors…while [also] addressing the problem of extreme sexual education.

“The campaign did not take the form of aggressive criticism, let alone stigmatising or harassing the plaintiff.”

Poland does not have any hate crime legislation which means the LGBT+ community are not protected against hate speech.

The judge said the campaign “is an expression of the defendant’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and of belief.”

During the trial, anti-LGBT+ protesters demonstrated outside with banners reading: “Stop paedophilia: homosexuals often molest children” and “What does the LGBT lobby want to teach children?”

In 2019, attacks against the LGBT+ community in Poland saw a stark rise following the anti-LGBT+ rhetoric at the forefront of Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, reelection campaign.

Same-sex marriage is not recognised in Poland, and the influence of the Catholic Church contributes to rising levels of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric. Indeed, Polish president Andrzej Duda has cited his Catholic faith as grounds for the country’s proposed ban on ‘homosexual propaganda’.

Speaking to As It Happens’ guest host Helen Mann, Staszewski said, “Last year was quite tough year for LGBT persons. There was a big campaign against us made by the Law and Justice government. They used us as public enemy number one for the parliament elections.”

Local governments across Poland proceeded to declare their village or regional assembly free of ‘LGBT+ ideology’. After this declaration, a local Polish newspaper, Gazeta Polska, shortly announced that their July 24 edition would include stickers featuring a black cross over a pride flag, with the words ‘LGBT-Free Zone’.

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