The Polish Minister of Education is proposing a law that would bar the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.
Gay rights activists in the country have spoken out against the EU, saying the organisation is not responding robustly enough to attacks on human rights in the new member states.
Roman Giertych, is deputy Prime Minister of Poland as well as Education Minister.
He leads the ultra-right League of Polish Families, part of Poland’s three-party coalition government.
He was reported yesterday to want to “prohibit the promotion of homosexuality and other deviance.”
A Ministry of Education press conference was told by junior Education minister Miroslaw Orzechowski that new laws will, “punish whomever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments.”
It is thought punishment under the new law will include imprisonment.
Roman Giertych recently caused outrage at a meeting of EU education ministers when he openly criticised the so-called “homosexual propaganda” in schools and suggested a EU-wide ban.
He claimed to be speaking for the Polish government.
Yesterday his father, Maciej, 70, was censured by the European Parliament for anti-semitism.
It was the first time a rule that provides for penalties against MEPs for “exceptionally serious” violations of the Parliament’s principles of mutual respect had been used.
Giertych Snr is an MEP representing his son’s League of Polish Families.
He published a booklet last month with the EU logo on it in which he asserted that Jews are biologically different from other people and that they “prefer to voluntarily live separately from the communities which surround them.”
He believes that Jews should not be allowed to live in Europe.
The Education Deptarment’s plans for new laws banning the sympathetic teaching of gay issues has been criticised by gay rights activists in Poland.
Robert Biedron, President of Polish LGBT organization Campaign Against Homophobia, said:
“I am embarrassed to hear of such a proposal; the issue is taking on more and more dangerous measures with each day, Poland is like an island drifting away from the rest of Europe.
“When Mr. Orzechowski made this statement about the law, even the journalists asked whether this kind of an “isolation” of LGBT people is a first step and if so, what will be the next?
“Don’t we already know this kind of a language from not so ancient history?
“It seems that with many other issues the EU is able to respond quickly and exercise the measures which are meant to be exercised if some rules are broken – and what happens when the rules of equal treatment and anti-discrimination are broken?
“What happens when a Minister of a member state regularly practices hate-speech and encourages intolerance? When will we see the measures taken against that?
“What else are we waiting for before we finally take action? Are we waiting for increase of data on victims of homophobic violence? Are we waiting for camps for LGBT people?
“In my opinion, we need to react before things go to extremes, not when they are there already and there is little to save,” said Biedron.
In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk last week, Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said there was little the EU could do to pressure Poland into being more tolerant.
“Poland is particularly offensive, isn’t it?” he said.
“We have what we call the Copenhagen criteria which as you know means (new EU member states) meeting human rights standards.
“The trouble is when you let people in, the EU has no way of dealing with it.
“You remember we sort-of suspended Austria from some of the councils of Europe over right-wing fascism, but we have absolutely no mechanism for dealing with people who want to detract from human rights.”
Sir Menzies said it was unlikely that such human rights safeguards could be introduced retrospectively:
“I think it would be quite difficult to put it in place now, I mean we are not six anymore we are not 12 or 15, we are 27.”