WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish prosecutor has charged an IKEA manager with religious discrimination for firing an employee who called homosexuality “an abomination” on the company’s internal website.
The employee at IKEA’s Krakow store was fired last year after quoting passages from the Bible referring to homosexuality on the company’s intranet and refusing to remove his comments, a spokesman for the Warsaw prosecutor’s office said.
IKEA said it was co-operating with the prosecutor to try to resolve the matter promptly.
“As an employer, we will provide all the help and support to our charged employee,” said a spokeswoman from Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores including those in Poland. She gave no further details.
At the time of the employee’s dismissal, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said the case was an example of using “legal and economic violence against those who do not share the values of homosexual activists.”
The prosecutor’s office said the employee’s rights may have been violated due to his religious beliefs. If convicted, the human resources manager who fired him could face a fine or up to two years in prison.
IKEA is also facing a civil lawsuit by the employee for wrongful dismissal.
Unlike nearly all western European countries, which have legalized same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples in recent years, the former Communist countries of the EU’s east have mostly held back on expanding gay rights.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) says lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) “ideology” is an invasive foreign influence that undermines traditional values in the staunchly Catholic country.
It made the issue a key battleground with the more liberal opposition before European elections last May and in a general election last October.
Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw and Anna Ringstrom in Stokholm; Editing by Nick Tattersall
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