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Poland Plots “Hate Speech” Censorship Law – Including Jailing Offenders for As Much as Three Years

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Poland’s new left-leaning government is pioneering an unprecedented crackdown on so-called “hate speech.” Newly proposed legislation could result in three-year imprisonment sentences for individuals accused of delivering offensive remarks against members of the LGBT community. The fresh approach to law enforcement has been attributed to the left’s successful rise to power, fulfilling earlier calls for rigid speech control.

The Polish Ministry of Justice has put forth a draft amendment on hate speech for public viewing on the official Government Legislation Center website. This proposed legislation targets not only hate speech related to sexual orientation and gender identity, but expands its scope to include offenses against age, disability, and gender.

Nonetheless, the Confederation party in Poland is resolute in their objection towards this planned governmental crackdown on “hate speech,” asserting a dire need for unsuppressed freedom of public discourse. Provisions relating to gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity have been annexed to Article 256 and 257, pertaining to incitement to hatred and offenses respectively.

With the draft prepared for review, the implications of the newly expanded definitions are extensive. Even vague offenses, vaguely categorized as “insults,” could potentially result in severe punitive measures. More specifically, insults leveled against someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity are now considered criminal, attracting penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment.

Emerging criticism against the fresh legislation points towards serious concerns about the potential implications on freedom of speech in Poland, as early as January this year. Opposition groups argue that such changes would effectively stifle free speech and pose a potent threat to religious freedom in Poland. In particular, Catholic doctrines that critique various aspects of LGBT ideologies could fall within the law’s scope.

As stated by Confederation MP Karina Bosak: “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.”

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