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Tue 22 June 2021

A member of the UK’s House of Lords and a duchess linked to the British Royal Family will attend the launch of Ordo Iuris’ new university later this week

Poland’s ultra-conservative, religious-right organisation Ordo Iuris, which in 2016 drafted a failed bill to totally ban abortion in the country, will launch its first university in Warsaw this week.

Invited to the conference to inaugurate the university – to be officially opened on 28 May – is UK member of the House of Lords, Baroness Caroline Cox, and the Duchess de Frankopan – the mother-in-law of Lord Nicholas Windsor, the son of Prince Edward, Duke Of Kent, who is a prominent anti-abortion activist.

Baroness Cox has faced criticism for her controversial views on Islam and for her support of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

Duchess de Frankopan will head up the university’s Department of International Law. A good friend of the late Pope John Paul II, her controversial book about Brexit echoed the far-right ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory. She wrote how England needed to be “saved” from the Remain campaign as “the EU planned and encouraged the migrant invasion from North Africa for the past 12 years” and claimed that “another wave will come from Azerbaijan, according to secret EU plans”.

The conspiracy theory that EU elites encourage migration from the Global South to ‘de-Christianise’ the region is popular among anti-abortion activists, including CBR UK’s Wilfred Wong who said in 2020 that the EU is “actively supporting Islamisation of the West”. CBR UK famously posted graphic abortion imagery outside Labour MP Stella Creasy’s constituency office in 2019.

Other lecturers linked to the university include associates of Donald Trump; US academic Stephen Baskerville, who has made controversial comments about LGBTIQ rights; as well as anti-rights voices from Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria and Brazil. 

Students at the university will have the chance to learn about “family policy in local governments” and migration issues. Vice President of Ordo Iuris, Dr Tymoteusz Zych, told nationalist YouTube channel National Media that the university would “develop a living Christian thought and classical heritage, which are not only the past but also the future of Europe”.


Ordo Iuris and Far-Right Links 

Ordo Iuris is a legal organisation that aims to promote “a legal culture based on respect for human dignity and rights”. It focuses on anti-abortion campaigning, religious freedom and defending “the natural identity of marriage as a reality linking a woman and a man in a permanent, exclusive relationship of a deep psychological, sexual and economic relationship, naturally oriented towards having children”.

Its influence exists in the context of the Polish Government’s swing to the authoritarian far-right – with towns declaring themselves “LGBT-free zones”, attacks on the free press and independent judiciary, and a tightening of the already draconian abortion laws.

The group has extensive links with the global radical-right, including partnering with the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), which has former Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow as its legal counsel. Both Ordo Iuris and ECLJ supported Poland’s recent ban on abortion in cases of foetal defect. US religious freedom giant, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which took partial credit for the recent abortion law change, was present at Ordo Iuris’s inauguration conference in 2012.

The organisation is also linked to Agenda Europe – a network seeking to undermine human rights across the region. Ordo Iuris is named in a report by European Parliamentary Forum’s Neil Datta as hosting Agenda Europe’s 2016 summit – annual events bringing together anti-rights actors from around the world. Its President, Aleksander Stepkowski, was also named as a regular attendee of Agenda Europe summits. Datta explained how members of Ordo Iuris “shared their experiences” of attempting to totally ban abortion in Poland at the annual summits. 

In Poland, the group has provided legal support for the annual far-right Independence Day March in Warsaw, which last year involved violent attacks on pro-choice and pro-LGBTIQ activists. 

Ordo Iuris’ university aims to counter the activities of billionaire philanthropist George Soros, according to a report in Polish newspaper Wyborcza.pl. Soros’ Central European University is criticised by Ordo Iuris as educating “a whole generation of left-wing intellectuals, politicians and lawyers”. 

Its Director of the Centre for Religious Freedom, Karina Bosak, is married to Polish far-right politician Krzysztof Bosak. Combining free market radicalism with ultra-nationalism, Bosak came fourth in 2020’s Presidential Elections. His electoral manifesto promoted a Christianity-based concept of law supported by Ordo Iuris, with plans to ban abortion, civil partnerships and gender confirmation surgery.


Mainstreaming the Religious Right

Ordo Iuris is accredited by the European Parliament, where it “participates actively in the decision-making process of laws”.

It also has ECOSOC consultative status with the United Nations – placing its extreme views on LGBTIQ and abortion rights in the heart of European and global decision-making. 

The presence of its members in mainstream political organisations is a key strategic tactic of Agenda Europe. The network aims to become a respected interlocutor at an international level.

According to Datta’s research, Austrian activist Gudrun Kugler and the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Paul Coleman recommended that associated organisations “should become accredited in all relevant institutions”. Agenda Europe’s own manifesto recommends that the organisation should strive to “bring in the right people into the right institutions”.

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