Events of 2009

The European Commission referred Poland to the European Court of Justice in May for missing the deadline for implementation of three EU directives on gender discrimination. The latest draft of a comprehensive domestic anti-discrimination law raised concerns with respect to protection from multiple discrimination or discrimination based on sexual orientation. The government-controlled Office of the Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment, created in 2008, lacks autonomy, and does not have a mandate to take complaints or assist individual victims, but the government resisted calls to establish an independent anti-discrimination body.

In a landmark decision in August, a regional court fined a woman for hate speech against her gay neighbor that had triggered harassment by others. Discrimination based on sexual orientation remains a serious problem, however, with hate speech apparently on the rise.

Poland continues to have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, and access to contraception and prenatal testing is limited. During a visit in May the UN special rapporteur on the right to health observed that women in Poland face significant barriers to accessing legal abortions and other reproductive health services. In September a court ordered a Roman Catholic magazine to compensate a woman it had publicly vilified for seeking an abortion on medical advice.

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