Poland rejects new human rights charter

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Gay activists in Poland have spoken of their dismay that the country’s newly-elected government are to continue the policy of opposition to the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Before coming to power earlier this month Donald Tusk had signalled he would sign up to the charter, which broadly mirrors the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski of the Law and Justice party had claimed that Poland was “culturally different” from their EU partners, especially when it came to the rights of LGBT people and the use of the death penalty, and refused to sign up.

In a TV debate during the campaign Mr Tusk pledged to sign Poland up to the EU Charter.

However, in an address to the Polish parliament last week Prime Minister Tusk said he will honour the commitment of the previous government and join the UK as the only nations in the 27-member EU to opt out.

The charter will become legally binding on EU institutions such as the European Court of Justice as part of the new Reform Treaty agreed by the EU heads of government in Lisbon last month.

It will be signed in the city on 13th December.

The treaty needs a two-thirds majority vote in the Polish parliament to become law, which requires the Law and Justice party to support it. For this reason the government decided to retain the opt-out.

“Poland is not going to protect its citizens on equal level as 25 other EU member states,” said Tomasz Szypula, Secretary General of Campaign Against Homophobia.

“In Poland there’s no anti-hate speech, anti-hate crime, anti-discriminatory laws which mention sexual orientation and now there won’t be the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”