Act of 6 June 1997 the Penal Code (Journal of Laws 1997 No. 88, item 553)


Article 119 – Whoever applies violence or unlawful threat to a group of persons or an individual because of their national, ethnic, racial, political, religious or non-denominational status is subject to imprisonment from 3 months to 5 years.

Article 190 § 1 – Whoever threatens another person to commit an offence to his/her harm or harm of the nearest person, if the threat provokes in a threatened person a legitimate fear that it will be executed, is subject to a fine, restriction of liberty or deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

Article 190a – Whoever, through persistent harassment of another person or his/her nearest person causes him/her to feel threatened, by justified circumstances, or seriously infringes his/her privacy, is subject to deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years.

Article 194 – Whoever restricts human’s rights on grounds of his/her religious affiliation or non-denominational status shall be subject to a fine, restriction of liberty or deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

Article 196 – Whoever offends the religious feelings of other persons by outraging in public an object of religious worship or a place dedicated to the public celebration of religious rites, shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

Article 197 § 1 – Whoever by violence, unlawful threat or deceit leads another person to a sexual intercourse, is subject to a penalty of deprivation of liberty for years 2 to 12.

Article 197 § 2 – If the perpetrator, in the manner specified in § 1, leads another person to undergo another sexual activity or performs such an activity, is subject to a penalty of deprivation of liberty from 6 months to 8 years.

Article 197 § 3 – If the perpetrator commits the rape:

1) in common with other person,

2) against a minor under 15 years of age,

3) against an ascendant, descendant, or a person being adopted, or brother or sister, he shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a minimum term of 3 years.

Article 197 § 4 – If the perpetrator of the crime specified in § 1 – 3 acts with particular cruelty, he shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a minimum term of 5 years.

Article 198 – Whoever, taking advantage of the vulnerability of another person, or of the lack of ability to recognise the significance of the act or ability to control his/her conduct, resulting from mental disability or disorder, subjects such a person to sexual intercourse or makes him/her submit to another sexual act or to perform such an act shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for a term of between 6 months and 8 years.

Article 199 § 1 – Whoever, by abusing dependence relationship or using a critical position, leads another person to sexual intercourse or to undergo another sexual activity or to perform such an act, shall be subject to a penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years.

Article 256 – Whoever publicly propagates a fascist or another totalitarian state or calls for hatred against national, ethnic, racial or religious differences or for non-denominational status, is subject to a fine, penalty of restriction of liberty or deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

Article 257 – Anyone who publicly insults a group of people or individuals because of their national, ethnic, racial or religious affiliation or because of their non-denominational status or for such reasons violates the bodily integrity of another person is subject to a penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years.

The Penal Code penalises behaviours consisting in using violence or threat, insulting others or any other limitation of their rights and freedoms because of their ethnic, national, religious affiliation. These are situations consisting in different types of behaviours belonging to the so-called offences based on national, race and other differences. The fact of the Polish act recognising these types of behaviours as criminal offences gives a clear message that the Polish state protects freedom from physical and mental coercion exercised against both individuals and groups of persons because of their national, ethnic, race, political affiliation or because of their lack of any religious denomination.

An important issue in the context of fight against sexual harassment in the Penal Code of 1997 is penalisation of acts against sexual liberty and decency, including, among others, Article 197 of the Penal Code referring to the offence of rape and submission to a sexual act, Article 198 of the Penal Code referring to sexual abuse of mental disability or vulnerability or Article 199 of the Penal Code on sexual abuse of dependence.