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e-3177 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by Karolina Hanula from Vancouver, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Poland’s government faces international condemnation for threatening and violating human rights of women, LGTBQIA2S+ and ethnic minority constituents;
  • In 2019, the United Nations identified an increase in racist and xenophobic “hate crimes and the use of hate speech and incitement to hatred within the political framework in Poland”;
  • In 2020, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights memorandum on the stigmatization of LGBTQIA2S+ persons in Poland identified “Anti-LGBT declarations” and “Family Charters” in 94 local government entities, stigmatization by government officials, government funded homophobia, anti-LGTBQIA2S+ litigation and prosecution;
  • In January 2021, Poland’s government put a near-total abortion ban into effect, after the country’s illegitimately-constituted constitutional court criminalized terminations for severe foetal impairment;
  • Mass protests have erupted in Poland against the abortion ban and ongoing threats against LGBTQIA2S+ people, calling for democracy, inclusive governance, equality, diversity and respect for human rights; and
  • Police have used excessive force against peaceful protesters including tear gas, pepper spray, metal batons, unlawful detainment and arrests, while far-right groups have violently attacked protesters.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to urgently:
1. Condemn stigmatization, violence and prosecution against women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQIA2S+ persons in Poland;
2. Raise the matter of human rights in Poland at the ministerial level;
3. Call on Poland’s government to uphold its obligations under international human rights law and conventions;
4. Engage bilaterally and multilaterally, including through the Equal Rights Coalition, to protect human rights in Poland; and
5. Support civil-society groups defending human rights in Poland, including through Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The Government of Canada is monitoring closely the developments and trendlines on inclusion in Poland. This comes in the context of a foreign policy that prioritizes all aspects of inclusion. The Government of Canada is a leading voice on the rights of women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQIA2S+ persons around the world. The human rights of all persons are universal and indivisible. Everyone should enjoy the same fundamental human rights, regardless of their sexual orientation, their gender identity or their ethnicity.

Around the world, including in Poland, Canada strongly advocates for access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services and information, including strengthening national health systems, investing in family planning and contraceptives, comprehensive sexual education, and supporting a women’s right to choose safe and legal abortion and access to post-abortion care. It is with this in mind that Canada recommended that Poland take immediate action to ensure that safe and legal abortions are available and accessible in practice, in keeping with the 1993 Act on Family Planning and consistent with Poland’s obligations under Articles 12 and 16 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Canada will continue to call on Poland to uphold its obligations under international human rights law and conventions, including at the next United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Poland in 2022.

The Government of Canada regularly raises concerns about human rights during meetings with Polish politicians and officials at all levels, often working with partner governments which share our concerns. 

The Government of Canada engages with Polish civil society to ensure that we are listening to and understanding the preoccupations of Polish citizens.  The Embassy of Canada in Poland works with numerous organizations including those that support women’s rights. The mission completed three projects over the past year with the Centrum Praw Kobiet. In accordance with our feminist foreign policy, the Government of the Canada is engaged with other organizations, institutions and companies to support gender equality in business, cultural production, and public administration. In terms of advocating for religious freedom and combatting anti-Semitism in Poland, Canada is engaged with the Jewish community and the anti-racism civil society organization Nigdy Wiecej to monitor the situation for religious and ethnic minority groups. Global Affairs Canada’s Office of Human Rights, Freedom and Inclusion also regularly engages with civil society groups, coordinated by Amnesty International.

The Embassy of Canada in Warsaw proudly, actively and visibly supports LGBTQIA2S rights, coordinating numerous initiatives to support the community in Poland. On May 15, 2020 –  the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – the Embassy brought together representatives from Polish LGBTQIA2S civil society organizations, ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic community, in a virtual effort to offer support. The Embassy has also hosted multiple bilateral meetings with LGBTQIA2S non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and leading advocates. The Embassy has provided financial support to a LGBTQIA2S film festival, hosted an online showing of a Canadian film on transgender themes “Venus,” and provided financial support for a group supporting LGBTQIA2S youth. It proudly flew the rainbow flag for one month in front of the Embassy. Canada was the only diplomatic mission to participate in the Equality Parade kayak event. The health and well-being of the LGBTQIA2S community will remain a priority concern for the Embassy of Canada.

Please be assured that the Government of Canada remains committed to the human rights, diversity and inclusion of all people and communities, and will continue to be active on these issues in Poland.

Open for signature
February 18, 2021, at 1:55 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 20, 2021, at 1:55 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Paul Manly (Nanaimo—Ladysmith)
March 26, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00752)
Government response tabled
May 10, 2021
Photo - Paul Manly
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia
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