A Polish conservative party proposed a three-year jail sentence for anyone who insults the church or religious sentiments. The proposed law will strengthen Poland’s current blasphemy laws, increasing its scope to anyone who “publicly insults the church or interrupts mass.”
Marcin Warchoł, the deputy justice minister from the ultra-conservative Solidarna Polska (United Poland), announced the proposed legislation with another hardline deputy justice minister, Marcin Romanowski.
Warchol believes that the “current law is full of holes and encourages hatred towards those who express religious views.” “In Poland, there are shocking examples of aggression and profanation of religious symbols,” he added.
According to Warchol, desecrations of the images of the Virgin Mary, disruption of church services, and spraying of slogans on church walls are just a few examples justifying his proposed law.
Last year, Nergal, the vocalist of the Polish extreme metal band Behemoth, was convicted of “offending religious feelings.” The conviction was for Nergal’s post showing himself stepping on a painting of the Virgin Mary.
The conviction was later overturned in court after Nergal challenged it.
There were also multiple incidents during LGBTQ parades where the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ were depicted with rainbow halos. Anti-abortion demonstrators also interrupted church service and vandalized church properties, Warchol added.
Warchol added that laws aimed to expand freedom and rights for the LGBTQ community are “at the expense of Christians.” “We need to stand up for religious freedom,” he added.
For the most part, Poland’s government has been faithful to promoting freedom of expression. But it has an existing blasphemy law, a unique element in most western democratic countries.
Article 196 of the Polish Penal Code prohibits “offenses toward religious feelings or sentiment.”
Warchol’s proposed law will expand the coverage of Article 196. “Whoever publicly mocks or scorns the church or other religious association would face up to two years in prison, or up to three years if they carried out the crime through the use of the media,” he explained.