After a lecturer quit her university over accusations she promoted intolerance in class, Poland’s minister for higher education and science, Jarosław Gowin, has promised to introduce legislation “defending free speech” and preventing “ideological censorship” in Polish universities.
Ewa Budzyńska, a professor of sociology at the University of Silesia, was accused by twelve students of “imposing” on her class “anti-choice ideology, homophobic views, antisemitism, information incompatible with modern scientific knowledge, and radical Catholic views”, reports weekly Do Rzeczy.
Among other claims in the complaint, which was submitted earlier this month, the students note that during lectures Budzyńska, who has taught at the university for 28 years, presented material defining the family as a “husband and wife, father, mother and child”, according to Polsat News.
"Studenci i rzecznik dyscyplinarny złożyli skargę do rektora na Ewę Budzyńską za jej rzekomo homofobiczne wypowiedzi podczas wykładu…. https://t.co/x4Hx7M7PY7
— ŁUKASZ (@DarthLexus) January 19, 2020
Students also criticised Professor Budzyńska for referring to the foetus as “a child in the womb”, and for presenting research which described the effects of same-sex couples raising children.
Following an investigation, the university’s disciplinary official, Professor Wojciech Popiołek, found that Budzyńska had shown “a lack of tolerance towards social groups and people with a different worldview, characterised by homophobic statements, religious discrimination, and criticism towards the life choices of women who terminate pregnancies”.
Popiołek, who according to Do Rzeczy did dismiss the allegation of antisemitism against Budzyńska, recommended that the university discipline her.
Budzyńska’s disciplinary hearing was due to take place on 31 January, but she instead decided to quit the university “as a gesture of protest”. She told Polsat that “the censorship of classes cannot [be allowed to] return”.
The professor’s cause has been taken up by various conservative groups. Ordo Iuris, a legal NGO that has been behind legislative efforts to ban abortion and resist “LGBT propaganda“, has offered to help with her case. The Archbishop of Katowice, Wiktor Skworc, has also appealed to the university in defence of Budzyńska.
The Polish branch of Catholic Action, a lay movement, wrote to Gowin, the minister responsible for universities, calling on him to intervene in the case.
In response, Gowin, who is also deputy prime minister and leader of one of the three parties that make up Poland’s ruling coalition, took to Twitter on Saturday to say that he was in contact with the University of Silesia.
He also promise that “at the beginning of next week I will present a bill to protect freedom of speech and of research at Polish universities. We will not allow extremely ideologised groups to censor”.
W sprawie Pani Prof. Ewy Budzyńskiej jestem od samego początku w kontakcie z władzami Uniwersytetu Śląskiego. Na początku tygodnia przedstawię projekt ustawy chroniącej wolność słowa i badań na polskich uczelniach. Nie pozwolimy środowiskom skrajnie zideologizowanym na cenzurę.
— Jarosław Gowin (@Jaroslaw_Gowin) January 18, 2020
In November, Gowin made a similar intervention, criticising a medical school for firing a lecturer who had sought to demonstrate to his students that “homosexuality is incompatible with nature”. Gowin said the university was “limiting academic freedom” and “violating the constitutional principle of free speech”.
Earlier in the year, Gowin came out in defence of a professor who was suspended by his university for writing a column in which he called LGBT groups “travelling rapists” and a “plague”. The professor was quickly reinstated following criticism from conservative politicians and media.
The minister also recently called on American streaming giant Netflix to remove from its service a film that depicts Jesus as gay, which Gowin said was “blasphemous”.
— Notes from Poland ?? (@notesfrompoland) January 7, 2020