Friday

6th Dec 2019

Polish veto blocks EU on rights of gays and Christians

  • Polish president Andrzej Duda: veto came amid laundry list of other EU disputes (Photo: Grzegorz Jakubowski/KPRP)

Poland has vetoed an EU human rights statement on the grounds that it covered gay people but not Christians and Jews.

"We proposed that recognising the need to protect Christians and Jews against religious discrimination be put on an equal footing with protecting the rights of people with a different sexual orientation, migrant children, or women," the Polish justice ministry said on Thursday (11 October).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Ruling PiS party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski (c) is known for homophobic, racist, and sexist rhetoric (Photo: pis.org.pl)

"Our .. proposal was not accepted by other delegations, so Poland decided to vote against the [EU] conclusions," it said.

The Polish veto, at a meeting of justice ministers in Luxembourg, meant the EU did not adopt conclusions on "the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2017" - a yearly statement.

The Austrian EU presidency instead published its own draft of the text "to take stock of the current debate".

The draft mentioned gay rights, migrant children, and women.

It also denounced "discrimination against ... religious groups", but it did not include the proposed Polish amendment: "especially Christians and Jews".

"LGBTI-equality should not be swept under the rug. The EU must stand for fundamental rights, today as well as any other day," Ferd Grapperhaus, the Dutch justice minister, told media.

Lukasz Piebiak, Poland's deputy justice minister, said Christians and Jews had been killed because of their religion in Europe.

To have left them out would have made the text "nonsense" and Poland could not allow the EU to "lie about the reality of the situation", he said.

The Polish justice ministry also said: "Poland, as a member of the European 'union of values' considers itself a guardian of the rights and freedoms included in the Charter of Fundamental Rights".

The Polish claims of moral high ground came amid EU complaints on the behaviour of its ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, however.

The European Commission has launched a sanctions procedure against Poland over PiS meddling in judicial independence.

It has also cited Poland in the EU court for its boycott of migrant-sharing quotas.

And PiS, which is known for its homophobic, racist, and sexist rhetoric, has paid a price in terms of EU co-operation.

EU price

Ireland and the Netherlands have declined to honour Polish European Arrest Warrants.

Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK have also disregarded a Polish EU visa ban on a PiS critic from Ukraine.

The Polish minister for humanitarian aid, Beata Kempa, said its EU migrant-sharing boycott would stay in place, despite the backlash.

"Our position from 2015 is the same," she told Polish media on Friday morning, amid EU talks on asylum law reform.

"Mass intake of migrants by EU states brings negative consequences ... you can see it in the example of Germany, France, Italy, and Greece," she said.

"Multiculturalism" was "bankrupt", she said.

Poland and Hungary boycotted the outcome of a vote on migrant quotas in the EU Council two years ago.

But they have also pledged to veto the EU commission's sanctions process against each other, posing questions on how to enforce the rules of the EU club on members who violated them.

"We [Poland] and Hungary are forerunners [in the EU] on many issues," Kempa said.

Gay rights

The Polish EU charter veto came one day before the Polish Supreme Court, on Friday, made history in Poland by giving the lesbian parents of a boy, who was born in London, the right to register him as their child in Poland, where same-sex unions are not recognised in law.

"This ruling will open up new legal possibilities for gay parents," Pawel Knut, a lawyer at Campaign Against Homophobia, a Polish NGO, told the Reuters news agency.

Rulings like that could be a thing of the past if PiS-loyalist Supreme Court judges were to take a more conservative line in future.

Focus

Most EU states drifted backward on gay rights

Intersex rights are the new boundary for toleration of sexual minorities in Europe, as EU institutions urged to show more "political courage" to stop hate.

Dutch refuse Polish arrest warrant over judicial fears

A court in Amsterdam has questioned the independence of the Polish judiciary - turning down a Polish request for a European arrest warrant over fears that the suspect would not a get a fair trial in Poland.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  2. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  3. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  4. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  5. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  6. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate
  7. Development to fuel change
  8. Does EU have role in stopping backsliding in Georgia?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us