Poland: Draft Constitution Includes Sexual Orientation

The Parliament of Poland will soon be considering a new permanent constitution drafted by its Constitutional Committee. On April 11, 1995, the Constitutional Committee proposed the human rights clause of the draft, outlining groups who should not be discriminated against. The proposed clause (Paragraph 2 - Article 2) reads "No one can be discriminated against because of their sex, race, national or ethnic background, health, physical or mental disability, social background, place of birth, sexual orientation, language spoken, religious faith or lack thereof, opinions, material status or for any other reason".

The inclusion of sexual orientation in this non discrimination clause caused immediate division among many of the deputies. At the time, former President Lech Walesa's representative walked out of the committee meeting, commenting "does this mean that intercourse with animals or a corpse will also be protected?" The Catholic Church has also strongly opposed the clause, citing it as an "example leading toward extremes which cannot be accepted by any normal society."

Lambda, a national gay and lesbian rights organization in Poland, has been lobbying the government for over two years to back a non-discrimination clause for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. A report issued by Lambda last year detailing cases of discrimination against gays and lesbians was instrumental in convincing commission members of the need for such a provision.

The question of the new permanent constitution was not due to be considered until after the November general elections, in which the former head of the Constitutional Commission, the now President-elect Aleksander Kwasnieski, defeated Walesa. With the elections past, Lambda predicts the next few months to be a critical period of decision making in the Polish Parliament. Please support their efforts by sending letters to the following officials expressing your support for the proposed human rights clause.

Letters should include the following points:

  1. It is the inherent responsibility of every government to respect and protect each citizen's right to be free from persecution and discrimination regardless of sexual orientation. Including sexual orientation in Poland's new Constitution is a necessary step towards a society tolerant of minority populations.
  2. This is a unique opportunity for Poland to fashion a long lasting Constitution that replaces the existing Stalin-era 1952 constitution with a document protecting individual freedoms and liberties, but that also will benefit future relations with European institutions including the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Parliament of the EC. The Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE (Recommendation 924/81 and Motion for Recommendation 6348/90) as well as the European Parliament (Resolution on Sexual Discrimination at the workplace) have both urged their member states to entirely equate homosexuals with heterosexuals in all fields of legislation.

Write to:

Marszalek Sejmu R.P. (Speaker of the Sejm)
ul. Wiejska 4/6/8
00-902 Warszawa
Poland
Marszalek Senatu R.P. (Speaker of the Senate)
ul. Wieska 4/6/8
00-902 Warszawa
Poland
Prezydent Aleksander Kwasnieski R.P.
Kancelaria
ul. Wiejska 10
00-902 Warszawa
Poland