By Maciej Golubiewski
  WASHINGTON, DC, April 24, 2008 ( – The government of Poland was pressed on the issue of abortion and sexual orientation by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week. The grilling came during something called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process mandated by the UN General Assembly.
  At the meeting on April 14th, the Polish delegation was questioned by various members of the committee about Poland’s human rights record.  Norway said that Poland should “facilitate access to abortion for women who qualify for this under Polish law.” 

  Slovenia, the United Kingdom and Sweden pushed for sexual orientation to be one of the grounds for non-discrimination in the new equality law being debated in the Polish parliament. Slovenia recommended that Poland stop legislation “punishing anyone who promotes homosexuality…in education…”.  Canada said that “those who campaign for equality and against discrimination based on perceived sexual orientation, (should be) allowed to carry out their work in a secure environment…”
  The Polish government responded that Poland does not hamper women’s access to legal abortion, pointing out that clinics which refuse to perform abortions must subcontract with services that do.  The head of the Polish delegation underlined that while the Polish Penal Code does not include discrimination based on sexual discrimination as a separate offense, Poland cooperates with European Union (EU) authorities on matters concerning sexual orientation.

  The current Polish government receives EU grants specifically designed for cooperation with homosexual groups. Poland has commissioned research on the situation of homosexuals, and instituted a working group on discrimination based on sexual orientation with a right to transmit policy recommendations to the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.
  Pawel Wosicki, a president of the Polish Confederation of Pro-Life Movements, and one of the NGO delegates to the review, said that “while the pro-abortion lobby has not succeeded in using the UPR process to promote abortion in Poland, the evident pressure on Poland in matters of sexual orientation is a serious development.  The Polish government’s delegation seemed very conciliatory towards these pressures and it missed an opportunity to criticize recommendations that could open doors to legalizing gay marriage and same sex unions.
  The Universal Periodic Review was established by the United Nations’ General Assembly in March 2005.  The resolution calls on the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) to “undertake a universal periodic review…of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments…” The HRC started the review process in April 2008 and plans to finish reviewing 192 UN member states by 2011.  Each country prepares a report based on general guidelines established by the HRC, which is then reviewed by three national delegations appointed by the HRC.  Other delegations are allowed to ask questions and suggest recommendations.