Amnesty International Report 2006 - Poland
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Poland, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7b511.html [accessed 24 October 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Racism and intolerance towards minorities was reported in both the private and public spheres. No action was taken against public figures whose statements appeared to incite intolerance. Police reportedly used excessive force against non-violent demonstrators.
2005 was a year of significant political changes. After general elections in September and a presidential election in October, the Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwoóc, PiS) came to power. Before the elections, the PiS criticized gay rights campaigners and expressed support for the death penalty. Following Lech Kaczyñski's election as President, the European Commission issued a formal warning to Poland, saying that it could lose its European Union (EU) voting rights if the President continued to oppose gay rights and sought to introduce the death penalty.
One of the first decisions of the new government was to abolish the Office for Gender Equality, making Poland the only EU country without a statutory equality watchdog.
Members of sexual minorities continued to face discrimination and restrictions on their right to freedom of expression and assembly. In June, Lech Kaczyñski, then mayor of Warsaw, refused for the second year to authorize the Equality Parade, holding that such an event would be "sexually obscene" and offensive to other people's religious feelings. An improvised parade still took place on 10 June, gathering more than 2,500 participants. Less than a week later, the mayor authorized the so-called Normality Parade, allowing an extremist homophobic grouping known as All Polish Youth (Mlodziez Wszechpolska) to mobilize on the streets of Warsaw.
In November the mayor of Poznañ banned a gay parade, ostensibly because of security concerns. However, the parade's organizers claimed that the Poznañ municipality had earlier indicated that there were no reasons to ban the parade, and that the mayor had given in to the demands of the conservative political parties Law and Justice and the League of Polish Families (Liga Polskich Rodzin). An unauthorized parade which took place on 19 November was met with physical attacks and verbal abuse from members of All Polish Youth. As a protest, demonstrations in support of tolerance and equality took place throughout Poland on 27 November. In December an administrative court in Poznañ annulled the authorities' decision to ban the parade.
There was no action against public statements inciting intolerance against sexual minorities, such as that made by a then Member of the European Parliament from the League of Polish Families: "After the elections, we will illegalize all homosexual organizations and we will attack paedophiles who are statistically the most numerous among them."
In its third report on Poland, released in June, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) expressed concern that the authorities rarely investigated and prosecuted cases of racial hatred, and allowed anti-Semitic material to freely circulate on the market. ECRI pointed out that in investigating violent attacks against ethnic minorities, such as Roma or migrants, the police often did not take into account the racist motivation of crimes, which resulted in a lighter sentence for the perpetrator, if convicted. Moreover, there was still no comprehensive body of legislation prohibiting racial discrimination in all fields of life.