A Polish court has dismissed a lawsuit against the organisers of an anti-LGBT+ campaign that linked homosexuality with paedophilia, ruling that it was “informative and educational”.
The campaign was run by ultra-conservative NGO Fundacja Pro, which drove around Poland in vans with loudspeakers and banners bearing the slogan: “Paedophilia is 20 times more common in homosexuals. They want to teach your children. Stop them!”
The group also publicises various claims regarding the alleged prevalence of child abuse among LGBT+ people, based on controversial and contested research by American scholars Mark Regnerus and Paul Cameron.
Last year lawyer Bartłomiej Ciążyński filed a civil suit against Fundacja Pro, arguing that its campaign “insulted, slandered and violated the dignity” of LGBT+ people.
Yesterday the case was dismissed by a district court in Wrocław, western Poland. In his ruling, Judge Adam Maciński said the campaign “should be considered as having an informative and social dimension” as it helped raise awareness of paedophilia.
“It illustrates the issue of paedophilia to the public, as well as differences in the way sex education is implemented among minors…while [also] addressing the problem of extreme sexual education,” he said.
“The campaign did not take the form of aggressive criticism, let alone stigmatising or harassing the plaintiff.”
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As Poland’s hate crime laws do not cover sexuality or gender orientation, Maciński ruled that the campaign “is an expression of the defendant’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and of belief”.
The ruling was announced as a picket formed outside the courtroom, with angry protesters holding signs reading: “Stop pedophilia: homosexuals often molest children” and “What does the LGBT lobby want to teach children?”
Homophobia rises in Poland
Poland is experiencing an upswing in anti-LGBT+ sentiment, largely driven by the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS). Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński recently secured an election victory with a campaign that was centred on hardline homophobic views.
In August Kaczyński hit out at Pride parades, telling voters: “The hard offensive, this travelling theatre that is showing up in different cities to provoke and then cry… we are the ones who are harmed by this, it must be unmasked and discarded.”
He also promised to fully enforce the law to “regulate these matters”, but did not explain what he meant by this.
This rhetoric has resulted in more than 80 municipal or local governments proclaiming themselves to be “free from LGBTI ideology”, a move strongly condemned by the European Parliament.
Local authorities in the LGBT-free zones pledge to refrain from acts that encourage tolerance and must avoid providing financial assistance to NGOs working to promote equal rights.