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Printer vs. LGBT Business Forum: conviction upheld

On 26 May 2017, the Regional Court in Łódź upheld the conviction of a printer who refused to produce a roll-up for an LGBT organisation because of his beliefs. The first instance court found the printer guilty of a petty offence but waived the penalty. The HFHR observed the trial.

“We won’t promote LGBT movements with our work”

Readers should be reminded that the case concerns the LGBT Business Forum Foundation who wanted to have their promotional materials printed in a printing shop in Łódź. Having received 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 offence contrary to article 138 of the Petty Offences Code, which is “intentionally refusing to perform a service without a reasonable cause”. In July 2016, the District Court for Łódź-Widzew issued a penal order against the printer and imposed a fine. As the defendant objected to the order, a full hearing was held in the case before the first instance court, which once again found the printer guilty of committing the petty offence in March 2017. However, considering extraordinary circumstances of the case, 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 emphasised that the ruling was an expression of the principle of equality before the law as an overarching value and as such did not criticise 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 HFHR, 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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