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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK
Polish porn bill overturned
Aleksander Kwasniewski
The bill's future lay in President Kwasniewski's hands
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has refused to sign into law a bill banning hard and soft-core pornography.

The ban had already been approved by the Polish parliament. It outlawed the import and distribution of pornography, with violators facing fines and jail terms of up to two years.

Mr Kwasniewski had earlier said that an effective fight against pornography could only be carried out through proper education, including sex education.



An effective fight against pornography can be carried out only through proper education, including sex education

Aleksander Kwasniewski
An aide to the president said that there were fears that the bill would be difficult to enforce, undermining the state's credibility.

One right wing group, the Christian National Union, has said that Mr Kwasniewski's failure to approve the law would contribute to Poland's moral decline.

The bill would have beeen the toughest anti-pornography law in Europe.

Deadline looming

"An effective fight against pornography can be carried out only through proper education, including sex education, and appropriate activities of churches and other institutions," the president told the weekly magazine, Polityka.

A sweeping ban "would facilitate creation of a black market and a growing interest in what is forbidden".

The debate surrounding the bill has raised tensions between the president, a former communist and now one of the country's favourite politicians, and right-wing politicians in the Solidarity-led government and the influential Catholic church.

Political issue

Marian Pilka, chairman of the ultra conservative group, the National Christian Union, which is one of the members of the ruling coalition's senior partner, Solidarity Electoral Action, said President Kwasniewski would contribute to Poland's moral decline if he does not sign the bill.


Warsaw sex shop
Sex shops have become a Warsaw feature since communism's fall
Presidential elections are due in November, and if President Kwasniewski stands for re-election he would easily win a majority.

Opponents of the bill, which include Mr Kwasniewski's left-wing allies, say it acts too strongly in limiting freedom of expression and would create a black market for pornography.

A recent survey showed that 45% of Poles wanted President Kwasniewski to sign the bill, while 39% favoured a veto.

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See also:

24 Feb 00 | Europe
Sweden debates pornography laws
12 Nov 99 | UK
Netting the pornographers
28 Oct 99 | Middle East
Porn raises temperatures in Gulf
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