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HFHR statement on cancellation of “Golgotha Picnic” performance

The HFHR has issued a statement on the cancellation of the “Golgotha Picnic” performance at Malta Festival Poznań and in other cities. It has been noted that artistic activity is an integral part of the freedom of expression, which also encompasses statements and works that may offend, shock or alarm some people. “Broader boundaries of artistic freedom are acceptable particularly when a given work is addressed to a specific adult audience and is performed in closed space that is inaccessible to accidental viewers”, the HFHR emphasises.

The HFHR also stressed that it is the responsibility of the public authorities to actively safeguard freedom of expression against unlawful hostile acts undertaken by private individuals. “Thus, the actions of public authorities may not be limited to notifying the organisers of a cultural event about the scale and kind of potential danger posed by the planned public assembly; they should effectively counteract the risk of violence being used. In particular, the authorities should ensure the safety of the organisers and participants of such an event and take adequate actions in relation to individuals attempting to disrupt the performance of the work”, the statement continues.

Sometimes freedom of expression may be restricted due to the duty to respect religious feelings. However, according to the HFHR, actions aimed at intimidating the organisers of a legal and ticketed theatre performance or actions amounting to the physical obstruction of the performance cannot be regarded as freedom of religion.

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