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Amicus curiae brief on lawsuit of controversial psychologist

The HFHR has submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Court of Appeal in Gdańsk, expressing its views on the case brought by P., an American psychologist, against The Diversity Workshop, a Polish advocacy organisation acting for LGBT persons. The psychologist is known for calling for the de-legalisation and treatment of homosexuality.

In 2013 the organisation contacted dozens of universities across Poland, disseminating letters of protest against lectures in which P was supposed to participate. The court held that certain expressions used by The Diversity Workshop in its protest publications had been an unlawful interference in the psychologist’s personal interests, and ordered the NGO to publish an apology on its website. At the same time, the court has dismissed the claim for the payment of PLN 30,000 for a charitable cause. Both parties appealed against the judgment. The appeal was scheduled to be heard on Wednesday 25 May 2016, but the session was postponed upon the motion of the counsel of the claimant because the Commissioner for Human Rights has joined the proceedings.

In its opinion, the Foundation noted that the Civil Code provides a remedy against violations of personal interests to everyone, but not every such violation may be deemed illegal. The jurisprudence has repeated on many occasions that certain circumstances justify an interference in personal interests of third parties. One of such justifications is a reasonable social interest. The brief also emphasised that “respondents should not be held liable if it is determined that their critical statements, expressing their opposition against the claimant’s public presentation of views inductive to discrimination of sexual minorities, constitute their subjective opinion about an issue of public importance, which is sufficiently substantiated by facts and ‘provoked’ by the controversial statements of the claimant”.

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