Poland’s Ruling Party Seeks Tough New Blasphemy Law, Jail For Mocking Church
Poland’s legislature is in the process of passing new “blasphemy” restrictions that would impose jail sentences for denigrating the Catholic Church, Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza reported Monday.
Parliament’s lower house has approved an amendment that—if passed into law—would impose “a fine, a penalty of restriction of liberty, or imprisonment up to two years,” on anyone who “publicly lies or makes fun of the Church or other religious association with official legal standing, or dogmas or rites.”
According to Gazeta Wyborcza, the move to impose such blasphemy restrictions began in October when Marcin Warchoł, the former Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Justice, began collecting the signatures required to introduce new legislation.
President Duda’s anti-LGBTQ+ agenda
Stricter penalties for anti-religious activities or statements follow in line with promises made by Polish President Andrzej Duda of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) to reinforce traditionalist religious practices in public life, and simultaneously restrict the freedoms of LGBTQ+ people.
Poland’s parliament has recently passed various legislation restricting the right to abortion, instituting mandatory religious curriculum in schools, and banning LGBTQ+ “propaganda.”
Paweł Borecki, a specialist in religious law at the University of Warsaw, says the proposed new “In Defense of Christians” blasphemy law is unconstitutional. “There is no basis in Polish law for favoring believers,” Borecki said, adding that the “purely political” project should be “thrown in the garbage.”
Blasphemy more common in Middle East
In addition to the direct restrictions on and penalties for blasphemy, the proposed law—an amendment to a rarely used section of the criminal code dating back to 1932—would prevent critics of LGBTQ+ issues from being sued for libel or slander.
Gazeta Wyborcza, the leading independent Polish newspaper, also notes that the legislation may run afoul of certain legislative procedures in an attempt to avoid publicity.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2019, 79 countries had laws or policies banning blasphemy. These laws are most common in the Middle East and North Africa, where the majority of the population is Muslim. Poland, where 87% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic, is an exception on the list.
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