Arrests, violence, threats. The Western press raises this alarm, about the alleged persecution of LGBT+ in Poland. The Italian newspaper L’Espresso does not even hesitate to define it an “hunt for homosexuals”. The question jumped onto the desks of chancelleries and party secretariats: even without naming Poland, the Democratic candidate for the US presidential election, Joe Biden, and Ursula von der Layen, president of the European Commission, took a stand against those who do not recognize LGBT rights. Meanwhile, two Italian MEPs, Brando Benifei (Partito Democratico) and Fabio Massimo Castaldo (Movimento 5 Stelle), filed a parliamentary motion to “sanction Poland and protect the LGBTQI activists arrested in Warsaw.”
But how well does this “witch-hunt” narrative correspond to reality? iFamNews asked Bartosz Lewandowski, a young lawyer, director of the Litigation Center of Ordo Iuris, a Polish association of lawyers also accredited to the European Parliament.
There was an arrest in August during an LGBT demonstration in Warsaw. What is going on? The Western press even speaks of a “broad operation of the government […] to limit and reduce the rights of sexual minorities.”
We must take a step back. In late June, a group of LGBT activists attacked a volunteer from a pro-life foundation, Pro-Prawo do życia, who was traveling in a propaganda van on the streets of Warsaw. The video of the incident shows the fury with which the perpetrators acted. In August, one of the suspects in this case, Michał Sz. Aka Margot, was temporarily arrested. He was quickly then presented as a hero for the LGBT cause by the left wing media. But the case is very simple: we are dealing with a criminal offense, a crime involving the use of violence against another person, with damage to health and destruction of property.
Some newspapers claim that the activist was arrested for hoisting a rainbow flag on a monument in Warsaw…
It’s false. Nevertheless that was picked up by both Reuters and representatives of the European Commission: this shows the level of manipulation of and disinformation, which aims to strike at the prestige and reputation of the Polish state, to present Poland as a “homophobic” country.
Who would have an interest in manipulating the news by casting shadows on the work of the Polish government?
This is a disinformation campaign conducted by LGBT activists, to claim that there is persecution of sexual minorities in Poland. The creation of the fake news of “LGBT-free zones” is part of this campaign, [news which] blames local governments for implementing pro-family resolutions, such as the Local Government Charter of Family Rights, co-authored by Ordo Iuris Institute.
What’s the link between the Charter of Family Rights and the persecution of homosexuals?
There is none. The Charter of Family Rights, signed by numerous social organizations, asserts the rights of parents and families guaranteed by the Polish Constitution. The document contains no reference to people who identify with the LGBT+ movement; yet it is accused of being an expression of discrimination. It is a process of manipulating reality.
What does Ordo Iuris do?
Ordo Iuris lawyers are representing a volunteer who was beaten during the illegal gathering of LGBT activists in June. More generally, our Institute takes legal action in other cases where there are violations of the law by LGBT activists. An example: the lawyers of Ordo Iuris defend the local administrations included in the “Atlas of Hate,” a list of Polish places where measures have been taken in favor of the family, including the approval of the Charter of Family Rights. So in March 2020, an artist placed signs at the entrance to these administrations that read “LGBT-free zone.” As I said earlier, these signs have been used in misrepresentation by numerous foreign media. The lawyers of Ordo Iuris have taken legal action regarding these actions and and submitted a notification to the Police about the possibility of an offense having been committed, that of arbitrarily placing road signs.
Could the Polish government’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention have undermined relations between Warsaw and the international community?
The government of Prime Minister Morawiecki has not yet made a decision to terminate the Istanbul Convention. So far, the prime minister has decided to refer the matter to the Constitutional Tribunal, in order to verify the compliance of the Convention with the Polish Constitution. The termination of the Convention would be an important step on the part of Poland towards decisive protection of the rights of the family and marriage. We are counting on Poland to join the countries that have rejected this harmful document, such as Slovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary. The Ordo Iuris Institute, together with pro-family organizations from 14 European countries, has prepared a petition to the authorities of the European Commission with an appeal to withdraw the European Union’s accession to the Istanbul Convention. Together with Polish non-governmental organizations, we are also collecting signatures on a draft law, aimed at the termination of the Convention by Poland and the commencement of work on the adoption of the international Convention on the Rights of the Family.
Are you afraid that the accusations of homophobia, as well as the questioning of the European Parliament, will lead Poland to renounce its policies in favor of the family and the birth rate?
The authorities of the European Union have no competence to influence areas of member states’ functioning such as protection of life or pro-family policy. However, they can exert pressure. The Istanbul Convention itself is an attempt to impose ideological solutions that undermine our constitutional order. We hope that Polish authorities will not yield to this pressure from radical ideologues.
I saw images of policemen lined up outside Polish churches to avoid attacks. Do Polish Christians feel threatened?
Far-left activists are committing more and more attacks on what is sacred for believers. Our involvement as the Ordo Iuris Institute in cases of profanation and attacks on Christians is very important, because, based on the experience of recent years, we can see that such representation is necessary so that these events are not ignored. The reports that reach us are important in this sense: without them we would not be able to counter the growing sense of impunity for anti-Christian outrages. Ordo Iuris lawyers offer free legal support to victims of sectarian hatred.
What types of attacks occur?
They range from the profanation of sacred images to insults to Christians by a musical group, to the creation of blasphemous images and even physical attacks on priests and the destruction of objects in churches.
Do you have an estimate of the frequency of these attacks?
The Ordo Iuris Religious Freedom Center submits an annual report to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on manifestations of hatred against Christians in Poland. The Institute’s monitoring program allowed for the detection of 40 cases of this type in 2019.