Poland: Parliament Debates Draft Constitution Inclusive of Sexual Orientation

The Parliament of Poland is set to debate its new permanent constitution this September. The draft constitution currently includes a provision prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its proposed human rights clause(Article 22, Paragraph 2). The human rights clause, proposed on April 11, 1995, states that "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 Constitutional Committee is expected to complete its draft by the end of the summer. While sexual orientation is currently retained in the Human Rights clause, Lambda, the national Polish gay and lesbian organization fears that there will be a strong attempt to remove it during the Polish National Assembly's debate in September. The draft constitution was the subject of heated public debates when it was proposed early last year. The Catholic Church has strongly opposed the clause, and is engaged in a negotiation with President Aleksander Kwaniewski, which may cause the removal of sexual orientation from the clause.

If this clause is retained in its entireity, Poland will stand as only the second country in the world after South Africa to constitutionally protect its gay and lesbian citizens from discrimination. Lambda issued a report in late 1994, which detailed cases of discrimination against gays and lesbians. This report, along with Lambda's lobbying efforts in the past two years for non-discrimination legislation which protects gay men lesbians and bisexuals, was instrumental in demonstrating to members of the Constitutional Committee the need for such a provision.

While it is reported that a few Polish officials have supported full retention of the clause, this has been purely on an ad-hoc basis, and Polish lesbians and gays continue to be expelled from their housing, fired from their jobs, and denied access to the benefits of registered partnerships. Letters sent to the "Speaker of the House" and the "Speaker of the Senate" are expected to pass directly to the Chairman of the Constitutional Committee. Lambda urges your swift action now in the form of urgent letters to these key parliamentarians in support of the proposed human rights clause.

Write to:

Jozef Zych
Marszalek Sejmu R.P.
(Speaker of the House)
ul. Wiejska 4/6/8
00-902 Warszawa, Poland
fax: +48-22-692-22-13
Prezydent Aleksander Kwasniewski R.P.
ul. Wiejska 10
00-902 Warszawa, Poland
fax: +48-22-695-12-54
Adam Struznik
Marszalek Senatu R.P.
(Speaker of the Senate)
ul. Wiejska 4/6/8
00-902 Warszawa, Poland
fax: +48-22-694-14-39