Polish delegate linked to extremist think tank given role on EU LGBT+ rights committee

Dozens of MEPs are protesting the nomination of a delegate from Poland for a key role on a gender equality and LGBT+ rights committee.

A total of 34 MEPs voiced concern at the appointment of Poland’s Tymoteusz Adam Zych to the Diversity Europe Group, whose remit covers gender equality and LGBT+ issues.

In an open letter to the European Economic and Social Committee, they highlighted the Polish official’s problematic background, which they fear goes against the standards held by the group.

“The recent appointment of Mr Zych undoubtedly raises questions over the legitimacy of his work in the field and the intentions behind his appointment,” the letter reads.

The MEPs note Zych is the vice president of Board of Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture, an organisation known for promoting extreme anti-LGBT+ rhetoric in Poland.

They describe Ordo Iuris as a “driving force” behind campaigns aiming to undermine human rights and gender equality in Poland, including the creation of “LGBT-free” zones. Ordo Iuris has also made calls to ban abortion and withdraw Poland from the Istanbul Convention.

Of further concern is the group’s close ties to Poland’s homophobic ruling party PiS, sparking fears that Zych could be taking cues from the country’s anti-LGBT+ conservative leadership.

“Do the president and vice presidents consider that… Zych will be in capacity to truly represent ‘the family, women’s and gender equality issues, youth, minority and underprivileged groups, persons with disabilities’, with a view to fighting discrimination against such groups?” the MEPs ask.

“Should his nomination pose a problem to furthering the work of this group, what action could you envisage?

The Poland-based official dismissed their concerns in an email to EUobserver, saying it was an effort to “stigmatise” him from the group.

“The letter does not refer to my own actions, neither within the EESC, nor outside of it,” he said. “The authors try to stigmatise me due to my activities in Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture, a human rights think tank.”

He also said EESC members are independent and that its diversity group represents NGOs active in various fields, coming from various backgrounds.

“An attempt to exercise political pressure towards the committee leadership questions this basic idea: that members can have different views,” he added.

The Diversity Europe Group has yet to publicly respond to the open letter or answer members’ questions about Zych’s LGBT+ reputation in Poland.