Petition: Protect Human Rights in Poland

This petition closes for signatures on March 20th, 2021.


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Human rights are under attack in Poland. Women are having their reproductive rights severely limited, LGBTQ++ people are facing increased government-sponsored homophobia, and ethnic minorities are experiencing increased hate crimes. These developments have sparked widespread protests which have been met with police brutality and far right vigilante violence. I encourage you to sign the petition I have sponsored calling on the Canadian government to support the human rights of women, LGBTQ++ people, and ethnic minorities in Poland.


During the pandemic, Poland, and countries around the world, have seen an increase in domestic violence. Yet, in June 2020, the Polish Minister of Justice declared that Poland would withdraw from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.


Another attack on women’s rights was a ruling in October 2020, when the Constitutional Tribunal restricted even further the already limited access to abortions. The ruling was met with widespread protests, which according to The Guardian, were the largest protests since the fall of communism in Poland. Protests erupted across the country again in January 2021 when the abortion ban came into effect, with protestors fighting not only for women’s rights, but also for the rights of LGBTQ++ individuals and ethnic minorities, who have also seen a recent deterioration in their rights.


The LGBTQ++ community in Poland has been facing an increasing amount of hate and homophobia. One-third of Poland’s cities have declared themselves “LGBT ideology-free zones” according to Human Rights Watch. As well, President Duda has called LGBT rights an “ideology” that is more dangerous than communism. Many international organizations are raising the alarm bells, including the Council of Europe whose Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern about the homophobic and hateful rhetoric of public officials, and government funded homophobia. The Commissioner said that “hate and dehumanization have an impact not just on victims but also on the well-being of society. They send a signal of social exclusion and threaten social cohesion”. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also raised concerns about the continued repression of LGBTQ++ people and activists in Poland.


Poland has also seen a deterioration of the rights of ethnic minorities. The UN has found that Poland has had an increase in racist and xenophobic hate crimes and in the use of hate speech. As well, the UN found increased incitement to hatred within the political framework. Since 2015, the Polish government has significantly reduced the human rights architecture, including dismantling human rights bodies, and reducing the capacities of the Human Rights Commission. According to the UN, neo-fascist movements and groups have been publicly active and some have even had members elected to Parliament; at the same time the government has not taken the necessary steps to stop the racist violence and xenophobia. UN research found that ethnic minorities who experience hate crimes are under-reporting the incidents to the police due to distrust of the police, lack of support, and other factors.


As a result of the deterioration of human rights in Poland, there have been widespread protests which have been met with violence and excessive force from the police and unlawful detainments and arrests. Far-rights groups have also been violently attacking protesters. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner of Human Rights has expressed concerns about the way in which law enforcement agencies and public prosecution services are using harassment and intimidation tactics.


In order to protect and defend human rights in Poland, the petition calls on the Canadian government to condemn the violence and prosecution, to call on Poland's government to uphold its international human rights obligations, and to work with international organizations and civil-society groups to support the protection of human rights.


I encourage you to sign the below petition.


Whereas:

  • Poland’s government faces international condemnation for threatening and violating human rights of women, LGTBQIA2S+ and ethnic minority constituents;

  • In 2019, the United Nations identified an increase in racist and xenophobic “hate crimes and the use of hate speech and incitement to hatred within the political framework in Poland”;

  • In 2020, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights memorandum on the stigmatization of LGBTQIA2S+ persons in Poland identified “Anti-LGBT declarations” and “Family Charters” in 94 local government entities, stigmatization by government officials, government funded homophobia, anti-LGTBQIA2S+ litigation and prosecution;

  • In January 2021, Poland’s government put a near-total abortion ban into effect, after the country’s illegitimately-constituted constitutional court criminalized terminations for severe foetal impairment;

  • Mass protests have erupted in Poland against the abortion ban and ongoing threats against LGBTQIA2S+ people, calling for democracy, inclusive governance, equality, diversity and respect for human rights; and

  • Police have used excessive force against peaceful protesters including tear gas, pepper spray, metal batons, unlawful detainment and arrests, while far-right groups have violently attacked protesters.

We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to urgently:

  1. Condemn stigmatization, violence and prosecution against women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQIA2S+ persons in Poland;

  2. Raise the matter of human rights in Poland at the ministerial level;

  3. Call on Poland’s government to uphold its obligations under international human rights law and conventions;

  4. Engage bilaterally and multilaterally, including through the Equal Rights Coalition, to protect human rights in Poland; and

  5. Support civil-society groups defending human rights in Poland, including through Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.


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