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A Poland court just annulled one of the country’s abhorrent ‘LGBT-free’ zones for turning a ‘blind eye to reality’

Emma Powys Maurice July 15, 2020
Poland LGBT free zone Fermoy Cork

The red area shows the municipalities in Poland that have signed the 'LGBT-free' pledge. (Atlas of Hate)

A so-called ‘LGBT-free’ zone in Poland has been declared invalid after judges ruled it violated the constitutional ban on discrimination and turned a “blind eye to reality”.

The municipality of Istebna in south western Poland was one of nearly 100 local governments to sign a pledge adopting resolutions against “LGBT+ propaganda”. These ‘LGBT-free’ zones now control almost a third of the country.

On Tuesday (14 July) a court ruled that Istebna had exceeded its authority in establishing an ‘LGBT-free’ zone, and in doing so had violated Article 32 of Poland’s constitution, which stipulates that “all persons shall be equal before the law” and “have the right to equal treatment by public authorities”.

Crucially, it violated the constitutional right that “no one shall be discriminated against in political, social or economic life for any reason whatsoever”. The ‘LGBT-free’ zone has now been annulled.

This is the first such ruling in Poland and it is likely to have huge implications for other ‘LGBT-free’ regions in the country.

“Ideology is always associated with people; the dictionary definition states that it is a system of ideas professed by individuals or groups of people,” one of the judges, Krzysztof Wujek, said in his justification.

Declaring a location to be “a zone free from” LGBT+ ideology “de facto refers to people from this LGBT group”, continued the judge. “Saying that it is an ideology, not people, is turning a blind eye to reality.”

He concluded that ‘LGBT-free’ zones are “harmful and strengthen a sense of threat against these people… These are the strongest arguments which made the court feel obliged to declare the resolution invalid.”

The conservative Polish Gazeta Polska magazine is including 'LGBT-free zone' stickers inside its weekly edition amid rising tensions between LGBT activists and a conservative Christian movement supported by the country's right-wing ruling party.
‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers for shops and businesses distributed in the conservative Polish Gazeta Polska magazine (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Getty)

The court also found that ‘LGBT-free’ zones violate the right to raise children in accordance with one’s beliefs as it limits the scope of subjects that can be taught in schools.

“Human sexuality is the subject of scientific research, one of the branches of medicine. Science cannot be considered inappropriate for curricula,” argued the court.

The landmark judgement was hailed as “unprecedented” by Poland’s commissioner for human rights, Adam Bodnar, which filed the complaints.

“It is a precedent, which will definitely go down in the history of the fight for human rights in Poland,” Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak, a lawyer from Bodnar’s office, told Polsat News.

“The justification of the court was crushing. It not only shared all substantive arguments of the commissioner recognising that these resolutions violate the constitutional rights and freedoms of the LGBT+ community, but [also] pointed out that they were harmful and discriminatory.”

According to Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak the Istebna ruling was followed on Wednesday (15 July) by a further ban on the ‘LGBT-free’ zone in Klwów in central Poland. This is a developing story and it appears that the judgment has not yet been finalised.

More: Europe, Istebna, LGBT-free zone, Poland

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