Poland court orders halt to ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers

The conservative Polish Gazeta Polska magazine is including 'LGBT-free zone' stickers inside its weekly edition amid rising tensions between LGBT activists and a conservative Christian movement supported by the country's right-wing ruling party.

A court in Poland has ordered a right-wing magazine to cease distributing ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers, after a challenge brought by LGBT+ campaigners.

The Warsaw District Court ordered the Gazeta Polska magazine to cease distributing the controversial stickers, which activists say have tapped in to rising homophobia in Poland.

The court agreed to the preliminary motion from LGBT+ campaigners bringing legal action against the publication, who had argued that the stickers violate rights by “creating a sense of threat and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

Anti-LGBT stickers are ‘discrimination based on sexual orientation’

The ruling notes that the country’s constitution which requires equal treatment and prohibits discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Marcin Cieminski and Sylwia Gregorczyk-Abram of Clifford Chance represented LGBT+ groups on a pro bono basis.

Cieminski said in a release: “We are delighted with the court’s decision to withdraw the supplement to Gazeta Polska and a two-week deadline has been set to file a lawsuit against the publisher of the newspaper for violation of the applicant’s personal rights.”

LGBT-free Zone stickers are distributed with the latest issue of Polish conservative weekly newspaper 'Gazeta Polska'. Krakow, Poland on 24 July, 2019.

LGBT-free Zone stickers are distributed with the latest issue of Polish conservative weekly newspaper ‘Gazeta Polska’. Krakow, Poland on 24 July, 2019. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty)

Gregorczyk-Abrams added: “The court ruled that the publication of the sticker ‘LGBT free zone’ may cause far-reaching effects in the form of exclusion of the applicant and other persons belonging to the LGBT community from the public sphere, as well as further harassment and discrimination.”

Clifford Chance’s Global Director of Inclusion Tiernan Brady said: “We are really proud of Sylwia and Marcin using their legal expertise to champion our values.

“We understand in the firm that for us to truly uphold our commitment to inclusion we have to be prepared to use these skills to drive change.”

Magazine claims ruling is ‘greatest act of censorship’ in modern Poland

However, Gazeta Polska editor-in-chief Tomasz Sakiewicz has vowed not to back down.

In a statement, he branded the decision “the greatest act of censorship in the history of the Third Polish Republic,” and claimed that LGBT+ people were trying to block sales of the magazine entirely.

He claimed: “This is the effect of neo-Marxist ideologists operating under the rainbow flag.

“We have signals that attacks on sales and attempts to intimidate sellers by political censors are underway. These are criminal activities.”

He claimed that Poland is seeing “more and more cases of censorship” that “concern not only our publications, but anyone who criticises the LGBT ideology in any way.”

Sakiewicz added: “If we give in now, we may never have a free press in Poland.”

Intolerance towards LGBT+ people is rife under the country’s right-wing government, with schools forced to cancel inclusive education lessons in October after intervention from the education minister.

In August 2018, Poland’s right-wing Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak called a Pride march in Poznan a “parade of sodomites.”

Blaszczak dismissed the equal rights rally as “another parade of sodomites who are trying to impose their own interpretation of civic rights on other people.”

In July 2018, the Minister for Internal Affairs Joachim Brudziński told the police to prosecute Pride marchers, accusing them of “desecrating” the Polish coat of arms by flying it on a Pride flag.