Polish politicians propose toughening blasphemy law


Central Europe


An image of the Virgin Mary is carried around during a pride parade. Photo AFP, Wojtek Radwanski

The ruling conservative Solidarna Polska party in Poland demands a change in the wording of a law that aims to protect religious beliefs.

Currently, the law forbids mocking and insulting someone else's belief, no matter what this belief is, Euractiv reports. The legislation states that anyone who "publicly insults an object of religious honour or a place intended for the public performance of religious rights" is punishable by law.

However, the deputy Justice minister Marcin Warchol announced on behalf of his party on April 13 that he wanted to change that wording. He wants the legislation to state that "whoever publicly insults or mocks the Church or another religious association with a regulated legal situation, its dogmas and rites, shall be subject to the penalty of two years' imprisonment." In short, insulting the Church or anything associated with it can be punished with years of imprisonment. Furthermore, the political party demands three years of imprisonment for anyone who disrupts a religious service.

Furthermore, the party wants to exempt people from criminal charges, such as hate speech, if they were expressing religious beliefs, Notes from Poland reports.

According to minister Warchol, the current legislation has too many ways around it and even "encourages hatred towards those who express religious views." He pointed out that there are shocking examples of aggression and profanity against religious symbols, Notes from Poland writes. Examples are the desecration of images of the Virgin Mary during pride parades and the spraying of slogans on church buildings.

The proposal has caused much consternation, Euractiv writes. Critics argue that the law should not criminalise behaviour that is hard to define. The left-wing editorial board Krytyka Politycna writes that "to be prosecuted under this article, it is not necessary to insult an object of religious honour publicly. It is enough to fall foul of one of the many well-organised groups of religious rights."

The Solidarna Polska party came to power in 2015. The conservative party sees Catholicism as an integral part of Polish identity.



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