An appeal to the presidential candidates for changes in Polish law allowing to combat homophobic hate crimes

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"We expect an amendment that will provide effective protection against attacks motivated by prejudice, including on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, gender and disability; that is, those discriminatory features that currently do not have any such protection in Polish law" - distinguished Polish lawyers appeal to candidates in the election to become President of the Republic of Poland



Warsaw, 23 June 2020

 

Dear Candidates in the election to become President of the Republic of Poland,

 

We appeal to you as representatives of the legal community.

 

We are guided by a sense of duty towards people who have been wronged by hate crimes, as well as to Polish citizens and people living in Poland, including representatives of minority groups, who should be guaranteed security and the protection of their rights by the government of the Polish state.

 

We are outraged by the homophobic statements which, as part of the election campaign, have been made by representatives of state authorities; these include the parliamentary deputy Jacek Żalek (“LGBT is not people, it’s an ideology”), the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda (“people are trying to convince us that these are people, but this is an ideology”), parliamentary deputy Przemysław Czarnek (“These people, they are not equal to normal people”) and Member of the European Parliament Joachim Brudziński (“Poland without LGBT is the most beautiful”).

 

As part of our profession, we have for years been observing how the instrumental use of hate speech in public life translates into increased verbal and physical aggression, as well as deepening discrimination against and the exclusion of stigmatised groups.

 

The temptation to use this kind of language by representatives of public life in Poland is constantly resurgent and turns out to be stronger than oaths sworn and the usual human duty to maintain decency. Any such statements deepen the ongoing erosion of the standards of correctness and tolerance in our society.

 

The answer to this problem, as derived from international human rights standards, and which have been applied for many years in other countries with similar histories and cultures to Poland, is primarily to provide effective legal protection. This protection should, of course, be accompanied by conscientious civic education; but without effective legal provisions, we deprive ourselves of the only foundation on which it is possible to build a dam against hate speech, a barrier which will be resistant to political interests and pressure.

 

We are sad to say that we are witnessing yet another election campaign during which the language of contempt has returned. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It is a language that not only fails to contribute to respect for the diversity of views in public debate but which in fact even drowns this debate out. We also believe that active participation in this debate, especially by people aspiring to hold the highest office in the state, is not only an expression of obeying the law, which every one of us should do. It also means taking on a special commitment to ensure that this debate is structured properly.

 

That is why we are appealing to you today to make a specific commitment during the presidential campaign. A commitment that – if you are elected President of the Republic of Poland – you will undertake a legislative initiative that will amend the provisions of Polish law which offer protection against hate crimes, including hate speech. We expect an amendment that will provide effective protection against attacks motivated by prejudice, including on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, gender and disability; that is, those discriminatory features that currently do not have any such protection in Polish law.

 

This appeal has been drafted by Paweł Knut, attorney, in co-operation with Dr Piotr Godzisz, Anna Mazurczak, attorney, Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak, attorney, and Anna Wójcik.

 

Signatories of the appeal:

Dr Grażyna Baranowska, Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Professor Piotr Bogdanowicz, University of Warsaw

Katarzyna Gajowniczek-Pruszyńska, attorney, deputy Dean of the Warsaw Bar Association

Professor Piotr Girdwoyń, University of Warsaw

Dr Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias, Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Sylwia Gregorczyk-Abram, attorney, Free Courts initiative

Professor Łukasz Gruszczyński, Kozminski University

Elżbieta Kasprzycka

Professor Zdzisław Kędzia, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan

Professor Maciej Kisilowski, Central European University

Professor Ewa Łętowska, member of the Polish Academy of Sciences and member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences

Mikołaj Pietrzak, attorney, Dean of the Warsaw Bar Association

Professor Ryszard Piotrowski, University of Warsaw

Dr Adam Ploszka, University of Warsaw

Professor Monika Płatek, University of Warsaw

Danuta Przywara, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights President of the Board

Professor Anna Rakowska-Trela, University of Łódź

Dr Katarzyna Sękowska-Kozłowska, Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Amnesty International Association (Poland)

Lex Super Omnia Association of Polish Prosecutors

Professor Jakub Urbanik, University of Warsaw

Professor Roman Wieruszewski, emeritus, Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Professor Mirosław Wyrzykowski, emeritus, University of Warsaw

Profesor Lech Garlicki, emeritus, University of Warsaw

mgr Alexander Martin Juranek, University of Warsaw, Silesian University in Katowice

Paweł Skrodzki, legal counsel, Stonewall Group Association Board Member

Mariusz Paplaczyk, attorney, Association of Polish Lawyers



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June 23, 2020

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