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26th Sep 2021

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

  • The EESC is composed of civil society groups, including the one dealing with diversity issues (Photo: EU)

Some two dozen MEPs are raising concerns over Polish anti-LGBTi influence within the EU's smallest institution.

The alert concerns the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), a Brussels-based institution that describes itself as a conduit for civil society.

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The MEPs are part of a cross-party coalition that seeks to defend LGBTi people, co-chaired by Luxembourg's centre-left Marc Angel and Germany's Green Terry Reintke.

They are upset that Poland has sent an individual with a dubious CV on LGBTI-rights to the EESC, who was then assigned to a group dealing on diversity.

The EESC diversity group handles issues like gender equality and gay rights.

But the Polish member, Tymoteusz Adam Zych, appears to have a history that goes against such issues, say the MEPs.

In a letter addressed to the EESC leadership, they question Zych's role in the diversity 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," they say.

Zych is the vice-president of Board of Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture.

The institute is known for promoting anti-LGBTI, anti-women's rights, anti-choice and anti-gender rhetoric in Poland.

The MEPs say Ordo Iuris is "a driving force behind campaigns aiming to undermine human rights and gender equality in Poland."

It is also close to the governing coalition in Warsaw, sparking fears that Zych may be taking cues from the country's conservative leadership.

But Zych, in an emailed response to EUobserver, disputed the points put forward in the letter by the MEPs.

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

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.

Poland has been embroiled with the European Commission, as well as rights defenders, for its wider efforts to delegitimise the gay community.

It made international headlines after towns through the country declared themselves so-called 'LGBTi-free zones'.

Earlier this year, the conservative Law and Justice government also announced the enforcement of a near total abortion ban.

The call sparked widespread protests.

This article was updated on 22 February, 2021 at 10:54 with comments from Zych

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