Polish IKEA manager could face jail after firing homophobic employee

The worker had shared comments that called for the death of gay people.

A human resources manager at a Polish branch of IKEA could face jail after he was charged with religious discrimination. The manager had fired an employee, known only as Tomasz K., who posted homophobic Bible verses on the staff’s intranet which called for the death of gay people, and then refused to remove them.

The two verses he posted were: “Woe to him through whom scandals come, it would be better for him to tie a millstone around his neck and plunge him in the depths of the sea,” and “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

The prosecutor said that the fired employee’s religious rights may have been violated, and the human resources manager who fired him could face a fine or up to two years in jail if convicted.

A spokesperson for the Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores, confirmed they were assisting the manager, saying: “As an employer, we will provide all the help and support to our charged employee.”

IKEA is also facing a civil lawsuit for the employee’s dismissal.

When the homophobic employee was fired last year, Poland’s Justice Minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, said it showed someone using “legal and economic violence against those who do not share the values of homosexual activists.”

Catholic bishops in the country also spoke against the firing, saying: “From the point of view of the law and above all of propriety and common sense, it is unacceptable to attack the Ikea employee who refused LGBT indoctrination in the workplace.”

Marcin Saduś, the spokesperson for the prosecution said that the employee “was the result of an arbitrary assessment and the prejudice of [the manager] towards the employee who, in expressing his views, referred to Christian values.”

They argued that the posts were “not an attack on a specific person from among his colleagues, but a response to the employer’s action” of asking employees to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

Last year, a third of Poland declared themselves an “LGBT-free zone” free from “LGBT ideology.”

Local authorities are refraining from actions that could be seen as tolerant of the LGBTQ+ community, and are working to prevent financial aid for non-governmental organisations helping to promote equal rights.

A conservative newspaper also printed “LGBT-free zone” stickers for readers to publicly display in their homes.

The European Parliament passed a motion condemning the country. The motion noted how most of the 80 regions in the barbaric aforementioned zones “discriminate in particular against single-parent and LGBTI families”.

They said it was “a broader context of attacks against the LGBTI community in Poland, which include growing hate speech by public and elected officials and public media, as well as attacks and bans on Pride marches and actions.”

The motion was opposed from Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party. 

Witold Waszczykowski, a former Foreign Minister, said that the LGBTQ+ “ideology that someone is creating out of this” is “demanding special treatment and causing upheaval.”

Warsaw City Council’s Marek Szolc, one of the select few gay councillors in Poland, criticised the Law and Justice Party for “endorsing hate speech against gay people” and said LGBTQ+ citizens “no longer feel safe”.

Related: Gay couple protesting Poland’s “LGBT-free zones” with rainbow face masks

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