Poland’s new government is moving to limit freedom of speech and actively penalize so-called hate speech, a move that has been associated with stifling dissent and limiting opposition to issues surrounding mass immigration, religion, and LGBT issues in other European countries.
Poland’s Confederation party is now voicing its opposition to new proposals outlined in the left-liberal coalition government’s agreement, which will effectively destroy free speech.
“The ruling coalition, as part of its coalition agreement, has announced that they want to penalize so-called hate speech. The current left-wing Deputy Minister of Justice Krzysztof Śmiszek, from the New Left, has stated that his department is currently working on introducing these regulations, which limit freedom of speech and public debate in Poland. We, as the Confederation, strongly oppose this. The direct consequence of criminalizing certain words will, in fact, be the criminalization of conservative, religious, Christian views,” declared Confederation MP Karina Bosak on Friday.
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Bosak added that public debate needs to be free, open, and unencumbered. She pointed out that her party “does not want there to be any sacred cows in Poland, that there are social groups whose ideas cannot be criticized at all in a healthy, free public debate.”
“We will defend Poles against such regulations and proposals that threaten freedom of speech and their values,” declared the Confederation MP.
Dobromir Sośnierz, another party member, highlighted concerns about the subjective nature of defining hate speech.
“What the left understands by so-called hate speech, in practice, will mean speech hated by Minister Śmiszek, not necessarily speech that expresses hatred towards someone, but something that leftists dislike,” he remarked.
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Sośnierz also warned that such regulations would, in practice, limit public debate.
“This government is starting not by expanding our freedoms but by limiting them again, which will also lead to clogging up the courts,” he added.
In his view, the ministry’s work is “an act of sabotage, especially in this situation where a massive crisis in the judiciary is looming, as well as perhaps the exclusion of certain judges from ruling. Adding more cases for the judiciary to resolve, which are completely unnecessary, will be counterproductive.”
Deputy Minister Śmiszek announced this week legislative changes to introduce criminal responsibility for what his party considers hate speech against homosexuals.
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“The time has come to ban disgusting, homophobic, discriminatory statements in the public sphere,” declared Śmiszek, who is openly homosexual.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament is calling on EU leaders to include incitement to hatred and hate crimes in the catalog of transnational crimes, which include terrorism or human trafficking.