Amending Poland’s penal code to ban criticism of the LGBT community is among measures the new government coalition is discussing.
The four parties, now negotiating their coalition agreement, met with LGBT lobbyists led by activist Bartosz Staszewski.
The measures include amending Poland’s penal code to ban “hate speech directed at any sexual orientation and gender self-identification”.
This move has attracted criticism, including from some lawyers.
Hate speech “per se is forbidden in law, therefore what is the point of singling out sexual orientation or gender identity in particular?” asks Kamil Smulski, from the Ordo Iuris Litigation Intervention Centre.
Accusations of hate speech are “a political tool used against opponents of the LGBT movement rather than in defence of rights and freedoms”, he adds.
The LGBT lobby has provided no statistics about the problem, says Smulski.
However, altering the penal code would create an effect of “self-censorship” for those who wanted to criticise ideas and activities of the LGBT lobby, he argues.
Bartosz Staszewski, leading the LGBT delegation to lobby the four parliamentary parties in coalition talks, came to prominence photographing himself at various locations with a sign reading “LGBT free zone”.
He took the photographs in places where regional authorities had adopted a family charter, which included a commitment to avoid teaching about LGBT sex, to avoid ‘sexualisation’ of children.
The European Commission threatened to withhold funding from the regional local authorities involved.
Court cases then confirmed the resolutions lacked legal standing.
The coalition agreement’s measures to improve LGBT rights in Poland “would be very concrete”, says Barbara Nowacka, who leads the Polish Initiative, a left-wing faction in Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition (KO).
Currently, Poland’s constitution defines marriage as being between a man and woman, and gives parents the right to have their children raised and educated in line with their values and views.
Same-sex marriage and LGBT education without parental consent are therefore now against the Polish constitution. The KO, the Left and Poland 2050 support introducing same-sex civil partnerships.
Marek Sawicki, a prominent Polish People’s Party (PSL) MP, says neither he nor others in his party would back same-sex civil partnerships because it could facilitate adoption by same-sex couples.
The LGBT movement in Poland is campaigning to legalise civil partnerships, leading to same-sex marriage, along with LGBT education in schools and the right to self-identify one’s own gender.
The outgoing ruling Conservatives (PiS) and the right-wing Confederation party have both opposed any of the measures suggested by the LGBT lobby.
Public opinion polls indicate that Poles are willing to support civil partnerships but oppose same-sex marriage, same-sex couples adopting children, and gender self-identification.