Poland Prepares New Hate-Speech Law: 3 Years In Prison For Insulting LGBT People

Poland Prepares New Hate-Speech Law: 3 Years In Prison For Insulting LGBT People
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Poland, once a bastion of conservatism, is radically shifting gears under the new left-liberal government with a new “hate speech” law that could see offenders imprisoned for up to three years for “offensive” content against LGBT people.

The left had already been pushing for stricter speech controls before the coalition government formed, and since it won power, the left is now making good on its promises. On Wednesday, the Polish Ministry of Justice published a draft amendment to the penal code regarding hate speech on the website of the Government Legislation Center.

The new draft law is looking to expand classifications regarding hate speech to include age, disability, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Polish news outlet DoRzeczy.

Poland’s new government moves to crack down on ‘hate speech’

In a strong stand against government plans to penalize what it calls “hate speech,” Poland’s Confederation party asserts the need for free and unrestricted public discourse

“The introduction of the proposed solutions will ensure enhanced and full criminal law protection against the use of violence or unlawful threats, incitement to hatred, insults and violations of bodily integrity due to the disability, age, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity of the injured party,” reads the draft.

The draft also threatens up to five years in prison for “threats.”

However, even for “insults,” which are loosely defined, penalties could be extremely harsh under the new draft law.

Provisions regarding gender, sexual orientation and gender identity have been added to article 256, which covers incitement to hated and in article 257 regarding insults.

Now, under these new rules, “insults” against sexual orientation or gender identity will be punishable by up to three years in prison.

Warnings about new hate speech law

Opposition parties in Poland were already warning against proposals to change hate speech laws in January of this year when the new government first came to power. They argued that such changes would effectively end free speech in Poland and represent a grave threat to religious freedom, with Catholicism in particular critical of many aspects of LGBT.

“The ruling coalition, as part of its coalition agreement, has announced that they want to penalize so-called hate speech. The current left-wing Deputy Minister of Justice Krzysztof Śmiszek, from the New Left, has stated that his department is currently working on introducing these regulations, which limit freedom of speech and public debate in Poland. We, as the Confederation, strongly oppose this. The direct consequence of criminalizing certain words will, in fact, be the criminalization of conservative, religious, Christian views,” said Confederation MP Karina Bosak on Friday.

Dobromir Sośnierz, another party member, highlighted concerns about the subjective nature of defining hate speech.

“What the left understands by so-called hate speech, in practice, will mean speech hated by Minister Śmiszek, not necessarily speech that expresses hatred towards someone, but something that leftists dislike,” he remarked.

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