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Polish courts rule against two ‘LGBT-Free Zones’

Polish courts rule against two ‘LGBT-Free Zones’

  • The zones breach the constitution and legal challenges could dismantle them.
Protestor holds a sign telling the LGBT+ community to go away.

Two separate Polish courts have annulled ‘LGBT-Free Zones’ ruling that they go against Poland’s constitution.

The court victories come after Poland’s commissioner for human rights, Adam Bodnar, filed a series of complaints against the zones that have sprung up around the country.

The judgments overturn the ‘LGBT-Free Zones’ in Klwów, in east-central Poland, and in Istebna in the south.

However, the local authorities can appeal in both cases.

Moreover, the zones remain in place in around a third of the country. And similar court cases against the anti-LGBT+ declarations have failed in five other courts including in Kraków, Kielce and Poznań.

Judge: Poland also has ‘tradition of tolerance’

Poland has 16 voivodships – or provinces. And five of those, plus 100 separate municipalities, have declared themselves LGBT-Free. Together they make up an area around the size of Hungary.

Both the court victories were in Voivodship – or Provincial – Administrative Courts last week.

The Voivodship Administrative Court in Radom annulled the Klwów Commune Council’s decision to set up its zone. And the equivalent court in Gliwice struck down the equivalent resolution from Istebna council.

In the Klwów case, the judge said:

‘In the Polish tradition there is also a tradition of tolerance, and the measure of the maturity of a given self-government is how we treat our minorities, because the majority always manages and the attitude towards the minorities is a measure of our assessment.’

Meanwhile the court ruling in the Istebna case stated that ‘LGBT ideology’ actually refers to LGBT people. Therefore, the zones discriminate against Polish citizens by excluding them from their community because of their sexuality or gender identity.

One of the judges, Krzysztof Wujek, said:

‘Ideology is always associated with people; the dictionary definition states that it is a system of ideas professed by individuals or groups of people.’

The judge added: ‘Saying that it is an ideology, not people, is turning a blind eye to reality.’

‘Historic’ judgment

Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak from the human rights ombudsman’s office, welcomed both judgments. She said she hoped other courts will repeat the rulings.

She added: ‘There is no place for discrimination and homophobia in Polish local government communities.’

Full details of the second case are not yet clear. However, talking about the Gliwice court decision, Błaszczak-Banasiak, said:

‘This is the first such ruling in Poland. It is a precedent, which will definitely go down in the history of the fight for human rights in Poland.

‘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.’

Homophobes can still appeal

However the court’s judgment is not final. Homophobes can still file an appeal within 30 days of receiving the court’s written ruling.

The decisions came in the same week that Poland’s anti-LGBT+ President Andrzej Duda narrowly won a re-election race. He promised to continue his Law and Justice Party’s (PiS) homophobic agenda.

During the campaign he attacked LGBT+ rights by signing a ‘Family Card’ containing homophobic pledges.

Moreover, he branded LGBT+ ‘ideology’ as worse than communist doctrine. And he promised a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, despite Poland already banning it.