Warsaw, Poland – A Polish court has banned the sale of ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers issued this week by a conservative newspaper.
On Thursday, a local court in Warsaw ordered conservative newspaper Gazeta Polska to halt the distribution of so-called ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers it included in its weekly edition that went on sale on Wednesday.
Legal action was initiated by activist Bartosz Staszewski, who said that “it is extremely important that we do not give in to homophobia in the public zone”.
Following the ruling, however, it was unclear whether the Gazeta Polska magazines should be withdrawn from sale, or whether the ban only applied to the stickers, showing a black cross superimposed on a rainbow LGBT flag, included in the weekly issue.
Gazeta Polska chief-editor Tomasz Sakiewicz claimed the magazine had not been withdraw from the shops. According to him, the initiative wasn’t meant to target any specific individual but rather directed against political correctness and those who attempt to censor views that are critical of the “LGBT ideology”.
Speaking about the backlash his publicity stunt prompted, Sakiewicz argued: “We wanted to prove that censorship in this case exists and we have proved it. What is happening is the best evidence that LGBT is a totalitarian ideology”.
The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has made LGBT rights a key political battleground for the upcoming elections, weighed in on the issue. Deputy-Prime Minister Jacek Sasin arguing that freedom of expression should be respected and that “we won’t impose on the free media and the free press what it should write and what stickers it should distribute”.
Last week, Gazeta Polska, which openly supports the government and receives, according to Reuters, significantly more advertising placements from state-run companies than any other privately-run media, had announced the imminent sale of ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers with its next issue.
The announcement prompted a wave of indignation and outrage and once again stoked the highly debated topic of gay rights in Poland, where dozens of cities and municipalities have in recent months passed resolutions to declare themselves “free from the LGBT ideology”.
Condemning the stickers, deputy-mayor of Warsaw Pawel Rabiej likened ‘LGBT-free zones’ to Nazi Germany’s establishment of “Jew-free zones”, while U.S. ambassador to Warsaw Georgette Mosbacher said she was “disappointed and concerned” about the sale of “stickers to promote hatred and intolerance”.
Even before the court’s ruling, a number of Polish retailers, including bookseller Empik and the local branch of British oil company BP, had joined a boycott and announced they wouldn’t distribute the controversial Gazeta Polska issue.