Polish court rejects call to remove crucifix from parliament

WARSAW Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:10pm GMT

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WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish court has rejected a motion calling for the removal of a crucifix from parliament's debating chamber in a case pitting Poland's traditional Catholicism against a younger generation who think the church is too strong.

Warsaw's district court late on Monday argued that since the cross had not been met with any objections in the past it was accepted by most Poles and did not violate their rights.

The crucifix was placed in the chamber one night by two conservative politicians in 1997.

The court also chastised the anti-clerical Palikot's Movement party led by former vodka tycoon Janusz Palikot which brought the court case, accusing it of calling for tolerance yet failing to show acceptance of religious symbols.

The party has tapped Poland's growing secularization to become the country's third-largest political force. It said it would appeal the decision.

"The court failed to show objectivity in its decision," said Andrzej Rozenek, one of the party's parliamentary deputies.

"We will appeal this and then seek to have any unfavorable decision overturned. We are determined, so the path should take us all the way to Strasbourg," he said, referring to the European Court of Human Rights.

Poland's rightist politicians hailed the court's decision, saying it reflected the feelings of most Poles.

"This case was a grotesque joke," said Andrzej Jaworski, a deputy of the opposition Law and Justice party and the head of the party's committee to fight atheism. "It was a part of Palikot's Movement's war against the cross."

Palikot's party includes Poland's first trans-sexual deputy and its only openly gay one and its agenda includes the legalization of marijuana and same-sex partnerships.

When it entered parliament in 2011, Palikot demanded the removal of the wooden cross that hangs above the entrance in the main chamber saying that it violated the Polish constitution and influenced parliamentary decisions.

(Editing by Jason Neely)

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