Tech & Rights

Conviction Upheld for Polish Printer Who Refused Work for LGBT Business

A court in Poland has upheld the conviction against a printer who refused to produce a roll-up for an LGBT organization because of his beliefs.

by Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
The Regional Court in Łódź on May 26 upheld the conviction of the printer, saying the justification for refusing to perform services cannot be based on an individual's beliefs.

The first instance court found the printer guilty of a petty offense but waived the penalty. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights observed the trial.

'No LGBT promotion in our work'

The case concerns the LGBT Business Forum Foundation, which wanted to have their promotional materials printed in a printing shop in Łódź.

After receiving the banner’s print proof, the printer responded: "I refuse to produce a roll-up from the proof I received. We won’t promote LGBT movements with our work."

The printer was accused of committing the petty offense of violating to Article 138 of the Petty Offenses Code, which involves "intentionally refusing to perform a service without a reasonable cause."

In July 2016, the District Court for Łódź-Widzew issued a penal judgment against the printer and imposed a fine. The defendant appealed the order, and a full hearing was held before the first instance court, which ruled in March 2017 that the printer was indeed guilty of committing the petty offense.

Considering extraordinary circumstances of the case, however, including the unimpeachable work record of the defendant, the court refrained from imposing a penalty.

Judgment of appellate court

The Regional Court confirmed that the printer’s refusal to make a banner was unjustified and hence, he failed to perform a service, which was his obligation under the contract. The court emphasized that the ruling was an expression of the principle of equality before the law as an overarching value and, as such, did not criticize or endorse the defendant’s beliefs or the LGBT orientation.

The court noted the need to keep the internal, moral order followed by each individual separate from the external legal order. Presenting verbal reasons for the judgment, the court stressed that the refusal to produce the roll-up could have been considered justified had the roll-up's content been contrary to law or public morals; however, in the court’s opinion, such a justification cannot be based on the individual beliefs of a printing shop's worker.

The court stated that every person has the right to come to a printing shop, place an order and be treated equally irrespective of the person’s appearance, sexual orientation or affiliation.

The judgment of the Regional Court is final. Apart from the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the case was monitored by representatives of the Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law and Court Watch Polska. The Campaign Against Homophobia provided legal services for the LGBT foundation.

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