Students in Poland were subjected to hours-long police interrogations after they reported a professor for teaching anti-LGBTQ+ lessons.
In February 2020, a group of students filed a formal complaint that Dr. Ewa Budzyńska, an associate sociology professor at the University of Silesia, was pushing “anti-choice ideology, homophobic views, anti-Semitism, denominational discrimination, information incompatible with modern scientific knowledge and promotion of radical Catholic views,” according to PinkNews. Budzyńska’s teachings were “based on false information” and “incompatible with current scientific knowledge," the complaint added. This complaint came after the students had first flagged the behavior a year prior.
Budzyńska’s controversial lessons included unsubstantiated right-wing screeds that abortion is "murder," a “normal family” is based on a relationship between a man and a woman, and gender studies, including transgender identity, is “like Communism.”
Budzyńska resigned in protest after the university opened an investigation into the complaint. And now, Ordo Iuris, a conservative Christian legal organization, is representing the right-wing teacher.
These same students were recently grilled for hours by Polish authorities. They left their interviews shaken and in tears, reports the Center for Monitoring Racist and Xenophobic Behaviors, which is providing legal support for the students. In a Saturday Facebook post, the group compared the police questioning to “intimidation, not standard law enforcement activities.”
While Polish authorities did not give the students a reason for these interrogations, lawyers from Ordo Iuris were present. The lawyers allege that the students falsified information in their complaint against Budzyńska.
In its Facebook update, the Center for Monitoring Racist and Xenophobic Behaviors attested that Ordo Iuris’s claims “are absurd and do not hold together.” The Center claims “that Ordo Iuris simply wants to intimidate students so that everyone else will be afraid to file a similar complaint.”
Budzyńska is now at the center of Poland’s culture wars. Right-wing Catholic groups have rallied to her cause. Even Jarosław Gowin, the deputy prime minister of Poland, posted about the case on Twitter and vowed “to present a bill to protect freedom of speech and research at Polish universities.” In this instance, “freedom of speech” is a cover for promoting right-wing ideology. “We will not allow extremely ideologized environments to censor,” Gowin added in the tweet, which was reported on by Polish press.
Budzyńska's case comes in the midst of a rising tide of homophobia in Poland. In February 2020, a third of the Eastern-European nation declared itself “LGBT-Free" as local municipalities signed a pledge denouncing "LGBT propaganda."
In April, Polish legislators debated a “Stop Pedophilia” bill that, in addition to branding LGBTQ+ people as pedophiles, would have made sex education a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. Ultimately, Poland’s parliament did not reject the bill, opting to send it back to the committee for “further work,” reports the Human Rights Watch.