On July 26 2016 the court in Łódź punished with a fine the printer, who broke the law (Art. 138 of the Offence Code) by refusing the organization acting for equal treatment of LGBT persons the service of printing. The verdict of the court was challenged by the Minister of Justice and The Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro, who published a statement in which he stated as follows: “[Courts] are supposed to guard the rights and freedoms of citizens, including freedom of business activity, and not to impose them any constraint. No ideological arguments justify violation of these fundamental rules”. He also stated that the organization representing LGBT persons has a privileged position.
On behalf of the members of the Open Republic Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia we express our firm protest against challenging autonomy of the courts by representative of executive power body, who should be the guard of legality in our country and not a false interpreter of the provisions of law and Constitution of RP.
Open Republic acts for human rights and open society free from any prejudice, respecting dignity and freedoms of all citizens. We protest against authorization (expressed by the Minister of Justice) discrimination because of sexual orientation which is contrary to the Polish Constitutional Act. We protest against the minister of the Polish government calling equality, respect, non-discrimination and tolerance an “ideology”. We refuse consent for discrimination of anyone for any reasons. The Polish law does not allow for discrimination which the printer from Łódź committed and nothing justifies such conduct. It is not true, either, that LGBT organizations enjoy a privileged position in Poland. It is quite opposite. The growing number of incidents shows that LGBT persons and organizations which represent them are objects of violence.
The Management Board of the Open Republic Association against anti-Semitism and Xenophobia
The Management Board of the Open Republic Association against anti-Semitism and Xenophobia initiated a protest against falsifying historical facts by the head of MEN and the new head of addressed to the President of Poland.
The Management Board of the Open Republic Association against anti-Semitism and Xenophobia, on behalf of its members, sent a letter to the President of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, in which it supports the initiative of calling a square at ul. Ogrodowa 5 in Warsaw with the name of Professor Władysław Bartoszewski.
Paula Sawicka, the Chairwoman of the Program Board of our Association, commented for the Wrocław edition of Gazeta Wyborcza the pronouncement of minister Anna Zalewska, who – in „Kropka nad i” program – provided pathetic replies to the questions on Jedwabne murder and Kielce pogrom.
“When asked about Jedwabne Zalewska said that “it is a historical fact, in which many misunderstandings and many biased opinions have appeared”. I do not know how misunderstandings may appear in the fact. Fact is a fact. It seems that the head of the Ministry of Education uses different dictionaries than we do. She changes meanings and she is a Polish philology graduate. She refers to the professors, who have different opinions than Jan Tomasz Gross. She does not mention that IPN [Institute of National Memory] published a multi-volume work on crime in Jedwabne based on the documents, without interpretation or opinions. This is not repression – this is clear evidence that we should start worrying about education in state schools managed by Zalewska” – said Paula Sawicka. “Minister of education said that children should be taught “memory and respect so that Holocaust is not going to happen again”, and she proposes poisoning the minds of young people. Her statements about Jedwabne and Kielce pogrom are lies and offending viewers’ intellect” – she added.
At the initiative of Helsinki Human Rights Foundation 40 Polish NGOs wrote to the Pope asking him to mention the problem of hate speech during his meetings with young people. In this appeal it is stressed that responsibility for word is one of the key challenges of today’s world. Freedom of speech guaranteed in Art. 54 of the Polish Constitutional Act and in Art. 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights is linked with responsibility. But hateful content is not subject to protection. Counteracting hate speech requires taking legal, and litigation steps but, first of all, education activities. Words of the Pope addressed to young people may play such role. Signatories include The Open Republic Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia.
On July 16 the National Fund of Environment Protection and Maritime Economy organizes a lecture by Stanisław Michalkiewicz entitled “Poland in the European Union”. We protest against inviting by a state institution a man, who instead of building bridges in the more and more divided society, stubbornly and maniacally burns and destroys them. We are convinced that you are able to invite a person, who can indeed deliver a lecture about Poland in EU. Stanisław Michalkiewicz’ activity to date makes us sure that he will use this meeting to spread hatred and to offend all those who – in his opinion – do not deserve respect – we write in the letter to the Fund’s management.
„Boats with refugees should be sunk, „We invite you… direction – Oświęcim, camps wait – hate speech becomes a sign of recognition of the Polish society, whereas the police, prosecutor’s offices and courts pretend that the problem hardly occurs – writes Magdalena Czyż, the Vice-president of our Association in her text “It starts with a beetroot”. The author quotes examples of hate speech, which did not cause reaction of the appropriate services and the absurd justifications of such decisions. She also mentions our portal www.zglosnienawisc.otwarta.org, with the help of which you can report all manifestations of hate speech and hate acts in the internet and in public space.
After the referendum, in which the Great Britain voted for leaving the European Union, several anti-Polish incidents happened. Paula Sawicka, the Chairwoman of our Association’s Program Board stressed in TVN24 program “You get up and you know” that problem of xenophobia and racism does not concern only Poles. We are very egocentric and we notice only what happens to us – to us, Poles. Racism and xenophobia is not limited to one nation or minority, it is more general. I think that if we want to evaluate what happens in Great Britain, we should look from a broader perspective, not in a narrow, nation-oriented way – she stated.
Sawicka said that in Poland racist acts also occur. In our country we have a flood of hatred, mostly in the internet, since it is the easiest way. Words full of hate can be heard from the Parliament, from the media. In the past, politicians did not dare to say things which they say today. Moreover, they use emotions to win supporters.
“The Studio Yaya program broadcast on TVP 3 Warszawa on Sunday, at 10:50 and 18:15 (repeated) by Ryszard Makowski and Paweł Dłużewski is praised by the broadcaster as a big dose of good humor and satire regarding our reality. According to different internet comments, the majority of viewers are of quite an opposite opinion: in comments on two so far broadcast sections of this program we meet the following expressions: horrible, shame and tragedy. The shock caused by the bottom-hitting humor presented in the program probably resulted in the fact that commentators did not pay much attention to the content promoted in it” – the President of the Open Republic Association, Marek Gumkowski, writes in his text entitled The End of Jokes about the not-funny satire in the public television program and about the song, which duplicates the most primitive anti-Semitic schemes.
“Building an open, tolerant, diversified society should be the mission of the Polish Television, just like it is the mission of our Association. This is why we watched with great concern the “Studio YaYo” broadcast of June 26, in which Ryszard Makowski sang a song a basis of which were stereotypes and prejudice against Jews (…) Anna Dymna, an outstanding Polish actress, said that television should pull the nation’s culture upward, but it pushes it into some horrible pits. This is why we react – we do not want to find ourselves in the aforementioned pit” – we write in a letter addressed to the National Broadcasting Board, Media Ethics Council and TVP S. A. Program Board. Our letter was also sent to the Management Board of the Polish Television and to the parliamentary Commission of Culture and Media.