A Warsaw court has dismissed a defamation case taken by 16 Polish LGBTQ+ activists against Polish anti-abortion campaigner Kaja Godek who described Leo Varadkar’s sexuality as “perversion” during a television debate.
Ms Godek is a co-founder of the Life and Family Foundation, an organisation who in 2018 attempted to tighten Poland’s abortion laws.
On May 30, 2018, a Polish television station held a debate following Ireland’s abortion referendum. Ms Godek said she was not surprised by the result in favour of removing the Eighth Amendment given that then Taoiseach Varadkar had flaunted his “bizarre” sexual orientation and shown “his perversion to the people”.
Asked by the host if she was saying homosexuals were perverted, Ms Godek continued: “Yes, yes. If the prime minister of Ireland declares that he has a male sexual partner, if it is accepted as normal, it is monstrous that such a country should be defined as a Catholic country.”
Further, into the discussion, she remarked that Varadkar’s homosexuality as an “ailment”. To this, co-panellist Katarzyna Piekarska, a left-wing politician and Warsaw city councillor said:
“You should be ashamed of yourself that you define a person with a different orientation as a pervert,” she said.
Following these comments, 16 LGBTQ+ rights activists and professors of law took libel action against Ms Godek.
On Tuesday, January 12, 2020, Judge Adam Mitkiwiecz said that while there was “no doubt” Ms Godek’s remarks should be assessed negatively, he saw no possibilities for remedies under civil law and recommended they seek to remedy “under other systems of law”.
No hate crime legislation is in place for hate speech against the LGBTQ+ community in Poland. In 2020 across several countries in Europe, anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is on the rise, including in Poland, where the nationalist ruling party railed against “LGBT ideology” in its re-election campaign in 2019.
Public prosecutor Krzysztof Kalinowski told the Polish court that Ms Godek’s “perversion” comments clearly “only referred to the prime minister of Ireland and not to everyone”.
Solicitor for the complainants, Wojciech Kozlowski, used the example of last week’s riots in Washington telling the court that there was a “thin line” between such remarks and inciting violence.
One of the complainants, Warsaw academic Prof Jakub Urbanik announced an appeal following the hearing:
“The court stated plainly that it was unacceptable what she said, so that is already something.”
Following a deal made in December in regards to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Union may withhold funding from countries and projects which discriminate against people based on gender, race or sexuality.
As such, countries such as Poland and Hungary must comply with the European Charter of Fundamental Rights or future funding may be withheld.
In September, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, strongly condemned Poland’s ‘LGBTQI-free zones’ while delivering her first State of the Union address. von der Leyen stated, “So I want to be crystal clear – LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones. And they have no place in our Union.” The European Commission President continued, “Because being yourself is not your ideology. It’s your identity. And no one can ever take it away.”
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