In mid-September, The European Court of Human Rights ordered Polish authorities to pay pop star Dorota Rabczewska damages in the amount of $9,300 for a ruling they overturned.
The case goes back to a 2009 television interview where “Doda” said that she was more convinced by dinosaurs than the bible, adding that “it’s hard to believe in something written by people who drank too much wine and smoked weed.”
Ryszard Nowak, chairman of a Polish Christian organization, responded by insisting she committed blasphemy per the country’s article 196 of the penal code, as she had hurt the feelings of both Christians and Jews.
She was formally charged in 2012, and a Warsaw District Court imposed a fine of roughly $985.
The European Court of Human Rights disagreed with the Warsaw court’s ruling and decided there was no reason to think her comments would incite violence or promote hate. The court insisted that Doda’s right to free speech was violated. The amount of the fine imposed by the Human Rights Court on authorities was nine times that of the original penalty imposed on Doda.
Poland is a very religious country, of which 86.9% are Catholic. Since 2005, right-wing political parties have dominated. Conservative politicians push for ever stricter laws, using culture wars to garner votes. The last few years have produced more blasphemy charges, a crackdown on LGBTQ communities, and a near-total abortion ban.
Freedom House ranked Poland 81 out of 100 in the 2022 Index. Their report states, “Recent years have seen an increase in nationalist and discriminatory rhetoric.”