Annual Review 2011
Access to goods and services
Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH) took up the case of a man who was refused insurance cover for his life partner under the Family Accident Insurance. After the intervention of the Insurance Ombudsman, the bank allowed the claim and included the client’s partner in the insurance plan. However, there is still no systematic resolution of discrimination against LGBT people within the insurance sector.
Bias motivated speech
- Member of Parliament Robert Węgrzyn was forced to publicly apologise for homophobic remarks he made to a reporter during a Parliamentary debate about civil partnerships. Leaders of his party, the Civic Platform (PO), condemned the remarks and he was expelled from the party.
- Anna Grodzka, President of Trans-Fuzja, filed a civil lawsuit against journalist Tomasz Terlikowski, who made personal transphobic comments about her during her parliamentary election campaign. She said she was suing not only because of the off ence caused to her but also that caused to the thousands of trans individuals in Poland. She proceeded with her suit, while acknowledging that neither gender identity nor gender expression are recognised in legal terms. Her case was declared admissible, but Mr Terlikowski, whose views were supported in various media, continued to make off ensive remarks.
- At the end of October, a Court allowed the National Rebirth of Poland Party (NOP) to register a homophobic symbol as one of its logos. The move led to calls for the Justice Ministry to intervene, as the symbol is highly offensive and used by many anti-equality groups and individuals, including those who perpetrated violence against Pride Parades across Europe.
Bias motivated violence
In May, over 400 people marched in Krakow’s Pride Parade but they were attacked by a group of around 150 people. The police used tear gas to subdue the attackers and took a number of them into custody.
A March for Tolerance was organised in Wrocław. Rather than ensuring the safety of the marchers, the City Hall told the organisers that if they wanted to avoid confrontation, they should change their route so as to avoid counter-demonstrators. The main organiser of the March was physically assaulted.
- In February, the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament examined petition 632/2008, on the refusal by the Polish authorities to issue civil status certifi cates for Polish citizens wishing to enter a marriage or registered partnership with their same-sex partners abroad. The petitioner argued that the refusal by the Polish authorities to issue the necessary certifi cates impedes Polish citizens’ freedom of movement (Article 21 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), since they cannot exercise the right to respect for private and family life simply because of their sexual orientation. The European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights recommended that the Committee keep the petition open, and instructed the European Commission to investigate whether the refusal policy is in line with EU law.
- In April, the Ministry of Interior announced that it would issue a new version of the certifi cate needed for individuals who intend to marry or enter into a registered partnership (whether of different- or same-sex) outside of Poland. The existing certifi cate requires the identity of the future spouse to be entered on the application form thereby enabling registrars who oppose partnerships of same-sex couples to refuse to issue the certificate. Despite this public statement, by the end of 2011 the forms had not yet been amended and people continued to be denied their certifi cates. At the end of the year there were at least two cases pending before the District Court in Warsaw from couples complaining that they had not been issued a certificate.
- In May, the Senate voted on the Family Support and Foster Care Act and adopted, amongst other items, an amendment under which “persons of homosexual orientation” cannot run a children’s home or a foster family. The amendment was passed despite the negative opinions of the Human Rights Committee and Senate Legislative Office. However the amendment was rejected by the Parliament, thereby removing it from the legislation.
- Also in May, the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), together with the Initiative Group for Civil Unions, tabled a bill proposing gender-neutral civil partnerships that would give couples joint property and taxation protection, as well as inheritance rights. However, the bill was stalled in Parliament and there were new parliamentary elections in October. In November, Member of Parliament Robert Biedroń, founding member of KPH and member of Palikot’s Movement Party (RP), stated that they would join forces with the SLD to reintroduce a bill on civil partnerships. The Prime Minister had previously promised that he was ready to discuss the issue. Biedron explained that the civil partnerships law may have to be amended before resubmission, in order not to confl ict with a law protecting marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman.
Freedom of expression
In April, a campaign to promote civil partnerships, Love does not exclude, caused controversy and was hampered when it moved beyond Warsaw. In four cities where campaign posters showing same-sex couples had been or were to be put up on public transport, they were removed. The companies justifi ed their action on various grounds including the risk that the posters would provoke vandalism, stir up tension, humiliate their elderly customers or cause offence.
Legal gender recognition
In November, the Vice-Minister of Justice declared that work would start on a new gender recognition legislation. In announcing this intention, the Vice-Minister explained that an inter-departmental working group would supervise drafting and the new legislation would aim to simplify the current gender recognition procedure. Trans-Fuzja started work to ensure that trans voices would be heard and that the gender recognition procedure would be approached as a human right and not as a medical process (pathologisation).
Participation in public/political life
In October, Anna Grodzka was elected to the Polish Parliament, making her the fi rst openly transsexual woman to be elected to a national parliament in Europe. Until December, she was the President of Trans-Fuzja and her election was welcomed by organisations that hope that her visibility and position in the legislature will help improve the situation of trans and intersex people. In the same elections, Robert Biedroń became the first openly gay man to be elected to the Polish Parliament. He said that the most pressing LGB issue was the introduction of civil partnerships for same-sex couples. They were both elected as members of Palikot’s Movement.
Police and law enforcement
- As part of the preparations for European Football Championship 2012, the police force engaged in a nationwide campaign to promote the football competition tolerance within its ranks. Tolerance towards the LGBT community became part of the training and recruitment provisions.
- In November, Trans-Fuzja started cooperating with the Polish police and attended a meeting called by the National Police Human Rights Protection Officer (HRPO), where Trans-Fuzja was able to give input to regional officers on trans specific issues, including hate crime. The organisation was positive about the interest of the HRPO in including trans issues and the problem of transphobia in training programmes for the police.