IKEA is facing the displeasure of both the government and workers across Poland after the Sweden-based home goods retailer fired an employee over a social-media post expressing opposition to homosexuality in the predominantly Catholic nation.
The employee, identified in the media as Tomasz K, has filed a lawsuit against IKEA for dismissing him from his job at the company’s store in Krakow. According to the lawsuit, the conflict began after IKEA had encouraged employees to participate in the homosexual activist-organized International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia on May 16 and “to stand up for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender plus people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”
In response, Tomasz expressed his opposition to the event in a social-media post, writing that the “acceptance and promotion of homosexuality and other deviations is a source of scandal.” In the post he cited a pair of Bible verses — Matthew 18:6, in which Jesus says that whoever causes the spiritual stumbling of others, “it would be better for him to tie a millstone around his neck and plunge him in the depths of the sea,” and Leviticus 20:13, which warns: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
IKEA responded by demanding that Tomasz delete the post, and when he refused, it promptly fired him for “using quotes from the Old Testament about death and blood in the context of what fate should meet homosexual people,” and for “expressing his opinion in a way that could affect the rights and dignity of LGBT+ people.”
In an interview with a Polish television network, Tomasz said that he was “shaken up” by IKEA's actions against him for standing up for his Christian values. “I’ve been hired to sell furniture, but I’m a Catholic and these aren’t my values,” he said.
Following the termination of Tomasz, at least one fellow IKEA employee quit, saying that if IKEA “promotes equality and diversity towards people, why was this situation where the Catholic expresses his opinion and is thrown out of work for it?”
In a prepared statement, a spokesperson for Ingka Group, the holding company which owns IKEA, insisted that “at Ingka Group we believe everyone has the right to be treated fairly and be given equal opportunities whatever their gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, age, nationality, religion and/or any other dimension of their identity. Inclusion at Ingka Group means respecting our individual differences and creating a safe environment for all. Everyone’s views and opinions are welcome with the common goal to build a great place to work.”
The spokesperson went on to say, however, that “using your religion background as a reason for excluding others is considered discrimination.”
IKEA was unprepared for the backlash across Poland to its politically correct posturing on behalf of LGBTQ activism. Bloomberg News reported that the incident comes “after Poland’s most powerful politician, governing-party boss Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said in the run-up to last month’s European elections that the advancement of gay rights is a ‘grave danger’ for Poland’s families and the future of the European Union.”
According to Bloomberg, the Polish government has ordered the Justice Ministry to investigate IKEA over the incident, “and if confirmed by the investigation, the episode shows how foreign companies in Poland ‘discriminate’ against those who don’t share their values, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro told public television TVP Info. ‘This is unacceptable,’ Ziobro said [June 28]. ‘It’s absolutely scandalous.’”
Patryk Jaki, a ruling-party legislator and former deputy under Justice Minister Ziobro, has called for a boycott of IKEA if the investigation finds that the retailer discriminated against Catholic Christians.
Additionally, IKEA may face pushback from workers across Poland. As reported by the Catholic Christian news site ChurchMilitant.com, Poland’s workers union Solidarność “has offered to support Tomasz K., even though he is not a member. ‘We are publicizing this matter, we are watching, monitoring. If we can be useful, we will take action,’ spokesman Marek Lewandowski said.”
Bloomberg noted that IKEA opened its first Polish store in 1991, and “has more than a dozen factories in the country and nearly the same amount of retail outlets. Polish plants make about 4,000 products sold in Ikea stores globally.”
Photo: AP Images