Amnesty accuses Poland of ignoring LGBT hate crime victims

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Amnesty International has taken aim at Poland for “falling dangerously short” when it comes to protecting LGBT hate crime victims.

The human rights organisation said Poland needs to change its laws to protect LGBT people, homeless people and disabled people from hate crimes.

Amnesty said the LGBT community in Poland faces “widespread and ingrained discrimination”, citing estimations by Polish LGBT group Campaign Against Homophobia, that there are hundreds of hate crimes each year.

“Poland has a two-tiered legal system that protects some minority groups but leaves others to fend for themselves. If you are a gay man or woman, a person with a disability or a homeless person in Poland and attacked because of who you are, the police will just treat it as an ordinary crime, not as a hate crime – this dangerous protection gap must be closed immediately,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe and Central Asia.

Members of the LGBT community in Szczecin say they live in fear after a 20-year-old gay man was beaten to death last January.

Despite that he was last seen exiting a gay club, and he was found in a construction site murdered with his trousers pulled down, having had his face repeatedly pushed into a puddle, police did not treat the crime as motivated by homophobia.

“Poland has taken some commendable steps to tackle hate crimes motivated by racism and xenophobia. But it is difficult to swallow that other minority groups who live with the same daily fears and harassment have not been given the same priority,” said Perolini.

“Poland has obligations under international law to ensure that all minority groups are equally protected from discrimination. The fact that authorities are failing to do so is actually discriminatory in itself.”

“Poland must once and for all take concrete steps to ensure that all minority groups in the country receive the same protection by law. The next government and parliament must make human rights a priority, and top of the list should be to end discrimination. No person in Poland should have to live in fear of violent attacks just because of who they are,” said Perolini.