Council of Europe tells Poland to stop LGBTI 'stigmatisation'

·2 min read
The LGBTI community in Poland is the target of 'hate and intolerance', a report says

The Council of Europe called on Poland on Thursday to end the stigmatisation of its LGBTI community, saying the east European country's record for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights was the worst in the EU.

In a report, the Council's human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic said leading politicians were responsible for a worsening over the past three years of the already poor treatment of LGBTI people.

She singled out President Andrzej Duda, who has called LGBTI an "ideology worse than communism", and ruling PiS party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who has said LGBTI people were a threat to the traditional family.

"Public officials and opinion makers should stop promoting an atmosphere of hate and intolerance vis-a-vis LGBTI people and instead improve respect for their human rights," Mijatovic said.

"Stigmatisation and hate speech carry a real risk of legitimising violence. LGBTI are people, not an ideology," she said.

The Commissioner said she was "deeply concerned about the visible rise in hateful rhetoric and the propagation of homophobic narratives by public officials and by other prominent bodies and figures in society in Poland".

She called for the revocation of anti-LGBTI declarations and charters, and for the rejection of what she said were several bills targeting LGBTI people currently pending in the Polish parliament.

Polish laws do not recognise non-heterosexual unions, and transgender people must undergo a long and costly legal procedure to get their status recognised, the report said.

The report meanwhile welcomed a declaration by Warsaw city authorities to make the capital more inclusive, but deplored the subsequent backlash led by hundreds of local politicians.

The government has financed "homophobic initiatives", the report found, while Pride marches have been subjected to violent attacks and activists to harassment and intimidation.

The report called on "public authorities, politicians and opinion leaders in Poland not to engage in hate speech or any discourse stigmatising LGBTI people, and to firmly denounce such actions and statements, including when they come from private parties".

The Council of Europe is an international organisation founded to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. It is not run by the European Union, but all EU countries are members.