Warsaw, Poland – The iconic and world-famous Swedish-founded brand is facing a lawsuit and possible boycott after its controversial sacking of an anti-LGBT employee.
IKEA fires employee over anti-LGBT comments
IKEA’s local Polish branch is in turmoil after an employee was reportedly fired for posting comments critical of the LGBT movement.
Named by public television network TVP Info only as Tomasz K., the employee in question said he was fired from the company’s Krakow office after he posted anti-LGBT comments, as well as quotes from the Bible, on IKEA’s intranet after employees were asked to attend a company event to express solidarity with the LGBT cause.
“I was shaken up”, he said. “I’ve been hired to sell furniture but I’m a Catholic and these aren’t my values”. Tomasz K. has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, and was offered legal help and representation by Ordo Iuris, a notorious Catholic conservative group that claims IKEA tried to “censor the Bible”. According to some reports, another employee subsequently quit his job in solidarity with him.
In a statement, IKEA argued that “the employee actually used quotes from the Old Testament about death and blood in the context of what fate should meet homosexuals”, the company said, adding that “many employees” contacted the HR department after reading his post.
The Bible excerpts in question are believed to be these two: “Woe to him through whom scandals come, it would be better for him to tie a millstone around his neck and plunge him in the depths of the sea (Matthew 18:6); and “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Leviticus 20:3).
Outrage over “anti-Catholic discrimination”
The incident quickly became center stage in Poland, where LGBT rights have been one of the key and most-debated issues in recent months, and prompted outcry among conservative and religious circles that were quick to label the case as a violation of freedom of speech, conscience and religion. Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who asked public prosecutors to investigate the case, described the sacking as “unacceptable” and “scandalous”.
Several lawmakers from the ruling Law and Justice party, which holds close ties to the Catholic Church and has consistently described the LGBT movement as a threat to Polish identity, called for a nation-wide boycott of the Swedish company if IKEA, which has been operating in Poland since 1991, was found guilty of discrimination by the prosecutors.
IKEA’s long-standing pro-LGBT policy
IKEA is no stranger to controversy and is widely known for being a vocal advocate of the LGBT community where it’s established, including in countries like Poland where tolerance for homosexuality is among the lowest.
Less than two months ago, when Hungary’s Parliament speaker drew a parallel between pedophiles and same-sex couples wishing to adopt a child, the local branch of the Swedish retailer condemned his comments by posting this picture on social media.