Court of Appeals Upholds District Court Decision to Keep Cross in Plenary Hall of Sejm

A petition was signed by far-left politicians to remove the cross hanging in the plenary hall of Sejm (the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament), claiming that the cross’ presence constitutes an infringement on their religious freedom. Some of their arguments included the fact that their personal rights as atheists were violated, that the cross affected decisions made by Polish members of parliament, and that the cross’ presence shows favoritism towards religion. On January 14th of 2013 the District Court of Warsaw ruled this complaint to be invalid, saying that the personal “discomfort” of the plaintiffs did not justify infringing on religious freedom. This decision was challenged, but later upheld in the Court of Appeals which emphasized the fact that “objective criteria, such as social assessment of specific conduct, are more important.” The majority of society, the Court pointed out, do not find the presence of the cross offensive, and its presence has a certain tradition now attached to it which must not be discounted.