Ordo Iuris, a fundamentalist Catholic organization known for influential advocacy efforts to ban abortion, harass LGBT communities and restrict divorce, is headed for a major split after two of its top members were revealed to have been involved in an extra-marital affair.
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Since last Friday, public opinion in Poland has been captivated by a sex scandal that rattled Ordo Iuris- a Catholic fundamentalist organization with direct access to top government politicians. Among other things, the lobby is notorious for its advocacy efforts to entirely ban abortion, harass LGBT communities, and restrict divorce. It was the originator behind the homophobic Family Rights Charter, adopted by several local governments.

There was a quiet split inside Ordo Iuris a few months ago but it has now been revealed that the main reason for this was likely a sex scandal involving the organization’s former vice-president Dr. Tymoteusz Zych and the director of the International Law Centre Karolina Pawłowska.

As a result, more than a dozen people have left Ordo Iuris, including Mr. Zych and Ms. Pawłowska. At a press conference on Friday, breakaway members announced their plans to launch a new organization: The Logos Institute.

How might the scandal affect the organization’s position? Should private matters of its members be discussed in public? We spoke with the women’s rights activist Klementyna Suchanow, LGBT activist Bart Staszewski, and Poland 2050 MP Hanna Gill-Piątek, all of whom had to deal with the organization and its members in one way or another.

Double standards inside Ordo Iuris: Moral hypocrisy exposed

- Hypocrisy is one thing, but the total self-righteousness and stupidity of young people who claim to have the right to arrange the lives of others is something else entirely. I hope that their conscience will speak to them, that they will think certain things over and change their views. They are now paying the price for their hubris. I have no qualms about condemning them. I have no sympathy for them. They were the faces of Ordo Iuris- says Klementyna Suchanow, a writer and one of the leaders of the Polish Women's Strike.

- It's hard to talk about an invasion of privacy in this case. If someone was pushing for a ban on divorce and later it turned out that he himself is getting one, this is important information in terms of public interest - these people influence and shape law in Poland - says MP Hanna Gill-Piątek. Last year, Dr. Tymoteusz Zych sued her for pointing out a possible conflict of interests. One of the organizations headed by Tymoteusz Zych received PLN 200,000 in grants from a government agency. Mr. Zych sat on the agency’s council.

- The recordings on the internet of Zych and Pawłowska moralizing other people. They did not even bat an eye. I remember Mr. Zych from one of the conferences; he said that making concessions to LGBT people is threatening marriage and the traditional family model. In my opinion, their hypocrisy should be made public. The public has a right to know about it. This organization is co-responsible for all the hell that Polish women are going through-says Bart Staszewski. He is the activist who put up "LGBT-free zone" signs in front of Polish towns whose authorities passed resolutions "against LGBT ideology". He recalls that members of Ordo Iuris activists have filed notices at police stations throughout Poland accusing him of an alleged misdemeanor (putting up the signs). He had to travel 3.2 thousand kilometers around the country to appear at the hearings. All cases were dropped.

Konferencja 'Indoktrynacja środowisk LGBT w polskich szkołach' w siedzibie Ordo Iuris w Warszawie, 24 stycznia 2019. Drugi z lewej - Tymoteusz Zych
Konferencja 'Indoktrynacja środowisk LGBT w polskich szkołach' w siedzibie Ordo Iuris w Warszawie, 24 stycznia 2019. Drugi z lewej - Tymoteusz Zych  Fot. Sławomir Kamiński / Agencja Wyborcza.pl

- The memes are funny, sure, but I hope that this scandal will seriously weaken Ordo Iuris. They are dangerous radicals - states Bart Staszewski.

- I don't know what long-term effects this will have. In the beginning, the internet was bursting with jokes about this whole scandal but it has already spilled over beyond mere memes. It was covered by mainstream media. Everyone is talking about it by now. It seems to me that Ordo Iuris will lose credibility. Perhaps they'll even have to change their name because this will stick with them. This is how you end up when you try entering people's bedrooms- says MP Hanna Gill-Piątek.

„They fell into a trap of their own making"

On Friday, when Tymoteusz Zych announced the creation of a new organization - Logos Europa, social media began filling up with content about the extra-marital affairs of former Ordo Iuris activists. There was an exchange of views on Twitter between Mr. Zych and Jerzy Kwaśniewski, the organization’s president.

- There will be an internal rift. As a former vice-president, Tymoteusz Zych knows how to raise money, so he will probably try to squeeze something from the pot that has so far fed Ordo Iuris. There might even be an internal war. Zych will try to find himself a niche among conservatives who have a more liberal approach to, for example, divorce. Besides, he already announced that in an interview with Onet - says Klementyna Suchanow. Ordo Iuris sued her for her book "This is war. Women, fundamentalists and the new Middle Ages", in which she describes, among other things, the organization’s international ties.

Klementyna Suchanow continues: - Members of these conservative networks are often very young and inexperienced. They were recruited during their college years. They thought they knew what life should look like, but over the years it turned out they were not necessarily right. They fell into the trap of their own making. For example, Ms. Pawłowska was an opponent of the Istanbul convention. Now she is getting a divorce. Let her imagine those women who are in a much more difficult situation than she is and tell them to stay married.

According to Klementyna Suchanow, this is not the end of Ordo Iuris: "This may be the beginning of the end, but these are clever people. They are part of a strong international network. A local scandal is not enough to bring them down. Although this divorce issue will surely come back. Their PR is a disaster and their credibility is virtually nil.

***

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    I have a Schadenfreude because of that xD
    już oceniałe(a)ś
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