Tuesday

16th Oct 2018

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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.

EU passport sales create 'proud Maltese citizens'

Malta says its 'Golden Visas' scheme attracts families that want to become "proud Maltese citizens". Meanwhile the sales to Russian nationals, and others, have generated over €700m in revenue.

Interview

Son of couple jailed in Egypt pleads to EU for help

A man is seeking EU support to release his parents from Egyptian prisons, where both have been detained without charge for over 450 days, the mother in solitary confinement. The pressure comes amid EU plans to increase cooperation with Cairo.

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Commission tried to hide details of 'WiFi4EU' glitch
  2. Brexit standoff continues before EU summit
  3. ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges
  4. How Juncker's 'do less' group concluded EU should not do less
  5. Cyprus and Russia: Association of Cyprus Banks responds
  6. Orthodox church split just tip of Putin's crumbling 'soft power' in Ukraine
  7. Daily reality in Western Sahara - and how EU can protect it
  8. Bavarian election puts Merkel on defensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us