Poland is violating the fundamental rights of EU citizens and blatantly disregarding EU treaties and standards

The European Commission and member states are duty bound to hold Poland accountable to EU Treaties, asserts ILGA-Europe, alongside two Polish equality organisations, in a legal complaint citing the violation of fundamental rights of the EU by inciting hatred and discrimination against LGBTI people.

On Monday 14 September, ILGA-Europe together with Polish LGBT rights organisations KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) and Fundacja Równo?ci (The Equality Foundation) submitted a legal complaint to the European Commission about so-called Family Charters and LGBT Free Zones, which over 100 Polish local governments have adopted over the last two years.

The complaint sets out how these declarations introduce discrimination against LGBTI people and thus breach the European Council Directive (2000/78/EC), establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights Article 15 on Freedom to choose an occupation and right to engage in work, and Article 21 on non-discrimination.

At the same time, many Polish LGBTI people have begun to write to the European Commission, often anonymously out of fear of further stigmatisation and hate, putting forward individual complaints about how they are being discriminated against in the cities that have declared themselves LGBT-free Zones and adopted Family Charters. Over 400 individual complaints were sent to the European Commission by LGBTI persons, sharing their fears for employment, health and life and their stories of discrimination in Poland.
With this complaint, ILGA-Europe and partners provide the legal analysis of how these Charters do not, as claimed by the Polish Prime Minister in a recent letter to the European Commission, protect Polish families, but instead put in place active discrimination against LGBTI people. Although there is no clear individual court case claiming discrimination in recruitment or employment at this point, the analysis shows clearly how the principles of Directive 2000/78/EC and the Charter of Fundamental Rights are being violated.

According to KATRIN HUGENDUBEL, Advocacy Director of ILGA-EUROPE: “The European Commission and Council can no longer remain silent in the face of such blatant violations of the principle of non-discrimination by a member state. Our legal analysis of the texts of the Family Charter clearly dismantles their discriminatory nature. The European Commission is duty-bound to answer the Polish Prime Minister’s letter, clearly rejecting the argument of “defending Polish families” and addressing the real harm that is being perpetrated on LGBTI people in Poland. EU law is being violated and the EC needs to start infringement procedures.”

According to MIKO CZERWI?SKI from FUNDACJA RÓWNO??: “Working in so-called ‘LGBT-free Zones’ we see what detrimental effect this is having on LGBTI people. They are losing their jobs or contracts, are excluded from local communities and are being violently attacked in their own cities. Fundacja Równo?? have also submitted complaints to the EC as we were denied access to an EU-funded cultural centre with the argument that we wanted to hold an “ideological event”, while a homophobic event was allowed to go ahead. The examples of discrimination and violence provided in all of the 400 individual complaints sent to the EC show how seriously Poland is violating fundamental rights.”

According to MIROS?AWA MAKUCHOWSKA from CAMPAIGN AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA (KPH): “LGBT people living in so-called ‘LGBT-free Zones’ cannot wait any longer. Hundreds of complaints have been sent to EC as fundamental rights are being violated on a daily basis. It’s high time for both EC and the Council to act – the citizens are calling for the immediate trigger of infringement procedure and to finally act under the Article 7(1) TEU procedure.”

Poland’s Family Charters are only one element in the hate campaign that Polish LGBTI people have been subjected to since 2018. In the country’s presidential elections earlier this year, President Andrzej Duda  degraded and scapegoated the LGBTI community in his campaign for election victory. This included claims that LGBT people “are not people, but ideology” and “more destructive than communism”, among other attempts at dehumanisation and incitement of hatred and fear. In the 2020 ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map, which benchmarks European countries in terms of LGBTI rights, Poland became the lowest ranking EU country, having lost points because LGBTI human rights defenders have been increasingly at risk, authorities have taken active measures to undermine civil society associations, and there have been attempts to ban public events.

Last week, the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, published his investigation of the arrests and detention of 48 LGBTI activists, which took place over the weekend of 7-9 August 2020, identifying degrading treatment, bordering on inhumane, in arrest and detention, and breaches of fundamental rights as set out in the Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, including mistreatment, the right to legal help, to inform a close person, to access to medical help, and the right to information.

KATRIN HUGENDUBEL concludes: “We have seen first actions by the European Commission in August, when Commissioner Dalli rejected six applications for town twinning projects by local governments who have declared themselves LGBT-free zones, but we need a more coordinated and holistic response, both from the European Commission and the European Council.

EC President, Ursula von der Leyen will address the Parliament with her State of the Union speech tomorrow, Wednesday morning.  What state is the Union in when Member States are freely violating the fundamental rights of EU citizens, and the principles of non-discrimination as set out in the Treaty?”


See also

News

Polish public broadcaster TP in EU Court for Discrimination Against Self-employed LGBTI Person

Today, the case of J.K. vs the Polish public broadcasting company TP, in which the applicant is seeking compensation for the discontinuation of his freelance […]
read more
News

European Commission and Council should refrain from approving recovery funds to the governments of Poland and Hungary

An Urgent call on the European Commission and the Council of europe to refrain from approving recovery funds to the governments of Poland and Hungary, […]
read more
Blog

The 5 trending attacks on the fundamental rights of LGBTI people in the EU

Right now, as the war on Ukraine escalates, democracy, human rights and equality matter more than ever in Europe. In our submission to the European Commission’s annual Rule of Law report, we’ve identified key trends in the systematic attacks on the rights of LGBTI people across EU member states.
read more
News

EU Ministers must act on the serious breach of EU’s rule of law and values in Poland

While Poland keeps attacking LGBTI people and their rights, ILGA-Europe have signed a joint letter along with 86 other NGOs asking EU Ministers to take action.
read more
Blog

The EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy: What’s Happening One Year On?

Just over a year ago, the European Commission adopted the first ever EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy, committing to be at the forefront of efforts to better protect LGBTIQ people’s rights. But how far has the Commission gone in its implementation so far? We looked closely, and here are our five conclusions.
read more
Report

2022 Rule of Law Report

In January 2022 ILGA-Europe compiled a submission to the European Commission’s public consultation ahead of the 2022 Rule of Law report. The submission covered rule […]
read more
Blog

What has 2021 meant to the LGBTI movement in Europe? Listen to our latest podcast episode to find out this year’s highlights

As 2021 comes to an end, we have collected some of the moments, events and trends that have marked the year in the latest episode of The Frontline, ILGA-Europe’s podcast about LGBTI activism and lives in Europe and Central Asia. Read here some of the episode’s highlights and find out reasons to stay hopeful in 2022.
read more
News

Commission includes LGBTI people in initiative to tackle hate crime and hate speech across the European Union

The European Commission has put forward a legal initiative to extend the list of EU crimes to include hate speech, both online and offline, and hate crime, with clear understanding that LGBTI people must be protected.
read more
Press Release

EU Holds Firm in Face of Hungary’s Blatant Lies Surrounding Anti-LGBTI Law

As the European Commission takes the second step in its infringement procedure against Hungary, Europe’s leading LGBTI organisation welcomes its clarified commitment to the equal […]
read more
News

Open letter to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

ILGA-Europe,  OII Europe, and TGEU urge the European Commission to acknowledge the existing prevalence of the violence and incitement to discrimination against LGBTI people, through naming SOGIGESC explicitly as protected grounds in the upcoming EU-level hate crime and hate speech legal initiative.
read more
Report

EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy – First year implementation evaluation

The first ever EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy, adopted in November 2020, is a major step in the EU’s overall commitment and detailed efforts to ensure […]
read more
Report

Poland Anti-LGBTI Hate Timeline

Over the past number of years, LGBTI people have come under increasing attack from ruling politicians, religious leaders and other public figures in Poland. This […]
read more
Report

LBTI women in sport: violence, discrimination, and lived experiences

In March 2021, a coalition of European networks working on LGBTI rights and including ILGA-Europe, EL*C, TGEU, OII Europe and EGLSF submitted to the Parliamentary […]
read more
Podcast

The frontline: Queer and the Media: with Ben Hunte

Ben Hunt’s first year on the job as BBC LGBT Correspondent* has been an unprecedented one, with the rise of anti-LGBT hatred in Europe, marked […]
read more
Press Release

With today’s infringements the EU has clarified that member states can no longer act against human rights with impunity

According to ILGA-Europe, the infringement procedures announced by the European Commission today show that the EU has come to a tipping point; after years of […]
read more
Press Release

Europe’s leading LGBTI rights organisation calls on EU to act as Hungarian parliament adopts legislation censoring communication about LGBTI people

As Hungary adopts Russian-style anti-LGBTI legislation, it is time for the EU to use all instruments available to hold its member state accountable for the […]
read more
Podcast

Rainbow Family Rights in Europe – Part 6: The Future

ILGA-Europe’s advocacy director, Katrin Hugendubel and Björn Sieverding from the Network of European LGBTIQ Families explore the issues coming down the line in terms of […]
read more
News

Is The EU an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone? 

The ambition is right, but the reality is very different, says leading European LGBTI rights organisation
read more
News

Joint manifesto for an inclusive and comprehensive eu gender-based violence policy for all

Together with the under-signed organisations we call on the European Union to adopt a forward-thinking and truly inclusive approach to gender-based violence – that leaves […]
read more
News

Help us create a Twitter Storm calling on the European Commission to hold Poland to account for its treatment of LGBTI people!

On Feb 11, as the current KPH campaign draws to an end, we would like to create a Twitter storm to get the hashtag #infringementNow trending, asking why the EU Commission has not taken infringement procedures against Poland yet. Here is how you can help create this important moment.
read more
Press Release

Poland: All charges against LGBTI rights defenders charged for peaceful activism must be dropped, say Human Rights NGOs

The trial of three women accused of “offending religious beliefs” will take place, tomorrow on January 13 in Plock, Poland. The activists face up to two years in prison for disseminating posters of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo symbolic of the LGBTI flag. Six international human rights NGOs are calling for all charges to be dropped, and for the Polish authorities to amend their legislation and bring it in line with international and regional human rights standards. 
read more
Podcast

The Frontline: 2020 – The EU & LGBTI Equality in an Extraordinary Year

In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic went global, we worried that equality would slip off EU agendas as lockdowns and an unprecedented economic crisis […]
read more
Press Release

EU shifts gear with adoption of LGBTIQ Equality Strategy

The publication today of a five-year EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy marks a qualitative shift from the European Commission towards playing its full role to defend and protect LGBTI rights in times of real backlash, says Europe’s largest LGBTI umbrella organisation, ILGA-Europe.
read more
News

ILGA-Europe is alarmed by Hungarian Parliament’s moves to abolish the national Equal Treatment Authority

Today, Tuesday 10th November 2020 the Justice Committee of the Hungarian Parliament tabled a bill that would abolish the Equal Treatment Authority (ETA), Hungary's most important equality body set up in 2005. 
read more
News

Poland: Drop charges against women rights defenders

NGOs call to drop unfounded charges for peaceful activism.
read more
News

Joint letter on Poland to Commission President von der Leyen

Following her State of the European Union speech, with KPH and Fundacja Równo?ci we wrote a letter to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. 
read more
Blog

Podcast: What’s it like being LGBTI in Poland in 2020?

Poland has reached a dangerous boiling point in its state-driven discrimination against LGBTI people. The first episode of ILGA-Europe’s podcast, The Frontline, goes behind the scenes to talk about a way forward for LGBTI activism in the country. Here’s what it’s all about…
read more
Blog

Poland’s Anti-LGBT Hate Timeline

We have created and will be updating this abbreviated timeline of what’s been happening over the past two years with the rise of official homophobia and transphobia.
read more
Podcast

The Frontline: Countering the Rise of State LGBT-phobia in Poland

We talk to Polish activist Slava Melnyk from KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) about how the situation has come to a head in the aftermath of […]
read more
Press Release

Poland: International institutions must protect LGBTI citizens and ensure the immediate release of activists

After nearly 2 years of mounting pressure, things came to a boiling point yesterday, August 7, in Warsaw. A spontaneous protest related to the “preventative detention” of an LGBTI activist, Margot Szutowicz, resulted in 48 arrests and extensive police brutality last night. More protests, and more arrests, are expected today as the repression of LGBTI people goes unabated.
read more