On 15 October the first reading of the so-called “Stop Paedophilia” project took place in the Parliament. The draft assumes a change in the provision of Article 200b of the Penal Code (Art. 200b. Whoever publicly promotes or approves paedophile behaviour shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.) This regulation obviously has the aim of protecting children from sexual abuse. However, the proposed amendment is not aimed at improving this protection, but at cynically using the provision to attack all those involved in sex education in Poland – parents, doctors, educators, teachers – as the authors explicitly admit in the explanatory memorandum of the Act.

According to the draft amendment to Art. 200b of the Penal Code, the provision is to be extended by three paragraphs. In addition to the concept of ‘paedophile behaviour’, provisions are added to cover ‘praise or promotion of sexual intercourse between minors’. Particular attention should be paid to the proposed Article 200b(4), which is worded as follows: Whoever promotes or condones engaging in sexual intercourse or any other sexual activity by a minor, while acting in connection with holding a position, exercising a profession or activity related to education, treatment or care of minors, or acting on the premises of a school or other institution or educational and care facility,  shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years [1].

The proposed amendment, and in particular the accompanying lobbying campaign, clearly indicate the intentions of the project implementers. The aim is both to prevent young people from exercising their right to reliable education, and to intimidate those involved in sex education and the provision of health care to people under the age of 18. As the Ponton Group, we are in constant contact with young people – they tell us about their problems, concerns, needs, and we listen to and support them. We can assure that the proposed amendment to the Penal Code will be detrimental to the youngest Polish women and men, depriving them of access to reliable education (sexual education), health care (gynaecological consultations, access to contraception or “after” pills) and the usual human support in the issues of sexuality, adolescence, growth, building healthy relationships.

We would like to stress that access to reliable education is one of the fundamental human rights which, however, may soon be seriously violated in Poland. Even more, Polish legislation also includes provisions to ensure that young people have access to knowledge about their sexuality! Article 4 of the Act of 7 January 1993 on Family Planning, Protection of the Human Fetus and the Conditions for Permissibility of Termination of Pregnancy stipulates that school curricula shall include knowledge about human sexual life, the principles of conscious and responsible parenthood, the value of family, life in the prenatal phase and methods and means of conscious procreation. In practice, it will be impossible to implement this provision without being subjected to accusations of “propagating” and “praising” manifestations of sexuality of young people.

The amendment is also absurd because the age of consent from which sexual activity can be legally carried out is 15 years in Poland. The project, while referring to “minors”, takes into account the fact that it is possible to engage in sexual activity with people from the age of 15, but at the same time they must not be informed about their sexuality! Thus, the authors condemn young people to dangers resulting from ignorance – unwanted pregnancies, infections, sexual violence.

We do not agree with this ruthless attack on the fundamental freedoms of young people in Poland. Its implementation will pose a threat to the physical and mental health of young people. This ruthless project should never have reached the reading stage during the sessions of the Parliament and was already given a negative opinion by many organizations, including the Polish Sexual Society. [2].

We will not allow ourselves to be intimidated and we will continue our work, especially as as up to 84% of Polish women and men see the need to provide young people with knowledge about sexuality in schools. [3]. We therefore call for the immediate rejection of this draft law, which will affect the well-being of young people throughout the country.

[1] http://orka.sejm.gov.pl/Druki8ka.nsf/Projekty/8-020-1286-2019/$file/8-020-1286-2019.pdf
[2] http://pts-seksuologia.pl/sites/strona/114/stanowisko-polskiego-towarzystwa-seksuologicznego-w-sprawie-projektu-ustawy-o-zmianie-ustawy-z-dnia-6-czerwca-1997r-kodeks-karny-zawartej-w-druku-sejmowym-nr-3751-penalizujacej-dzialania-z-zakresu-edukacji-seksualnej?fbclid=IwAR0Hk-73HuLfRDwB26KtYcZ1MWyZQmuEEradFM7fAEne2Nv7prJjDzl6kHU
[3] https://www.cbos.pl/SPISKOM.POL/2019/K_066_19.PDF

Translation: Katarzyna Sęk

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