Statement on LGBTI phobic violence & hate speech in Poland

We were appalled to see that the participants of the Equality March – that took place for the first time in the Polish city of Bialystok on 20 July – became victims of LGBTI-phobic hate speech and physical violence exhibited by far-right groups and football ultra-fans.

Hooligans tried to stop the peaceful march by throwing stones, eggs and firecrackers – as well as by beating up and verbally offending its participants – something widely reported in both traditional and social media. This happened only a few days after the Polish Magazine Gazeta Polska announced its plans to distribute “LGBT-free zone” stickers.

For many months, the ruling Law and Justice (PIS) party has been portraying the LGBTI community as the public enemy and a threat to traditional Polish and Catholic values. We are concerned to see such backlash stimulate anti-LGBTI sentiments in Poland and beyond.

Freedom of assembly, the right to dignity and to non-discrimination are pillars of democracy. Therefore, we strongly condemn such examples of LGBTI phobic hate speech and hate crimes and we encourage Polish authorities to do the same, in order to guarantee every citizen’s right to live a life free of discrimination and violence. This is why, as the LGBTI Intergroup, we believe and will continue to push for the EU to finally close the gap in protection and guarantee full equality for all citizens, in line with EU values. We will also continue to advocate for the EU to adopt common rules on hate speech (including LGBTI phobic hate speech).

Therefore, we call on:

Polish authorities to protect the human rights of all its citizens, including LGBTI people, especially freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to be free from violence and discrimination. This includes prosecuting authors of LGBTI phobic violence and hate speech, and providing appropriate compensation to their victims. We also count on Polish authorities to provide full protection to upcoming Prides in Poland, and to the “march against violence” this coming Sunday in Bialystok, so they can take place in a safe and peaceful manner.

The European Commission to push forward the long awaited Equality Directive, so all EU citizens can be granted the highest level of protection against discrimination, to facilitate the adoption of common rules on hate speech and to adopt an LGBTI strategy as soon as possible.

Terry Reintke MEP, Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup

Sophie in’t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup

Malin Bjork MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup

Tanja Fajon, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup

Robert Biedron MEP

Sylwia Spurek MEP

Giuliano Pisapia MEP

Hilde Vautmans MEP

Fredrick Federley MEP

Birgit Sippel MEP

Giuseppina Picierno MEP

Josianne Cutajar MEP

Manuel Bompard MEP

Monika Vana MEP

Anne-Sophie Pelletier MEP

Younous Omarjee MEP

Jackie Jones MEP

Brando Benifei MEP

Maria Arena MEP

Karen Melchior MEP

Mónica Silvana González MEP

Theresa Griffin MEP

Agnes Jongerius MEP

Alex Agius Saliba MEP

Petra de Sutter MEP

Abir Al-Sahlani MEP

Evin Incir MEP

Claude Moraes MEP

Heidi Hautala MEP

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica MEP

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP

Julie Ward MEP

Jill Evans MEP

Rosa d’Amato MEP

Kati Piri MEP

Iratxe Garcia Pérez MEP

Martin Hojsik MEP

Rasmus Andresen MEP

Rory Palmer MEP

Sándor Ronai MEP

Kim van Sparrentak MEP

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield MEP