Ordo Iuris, an ultra-conservative Catholic foundation known for influential lobbying to ban abortion and limit LGBT+ rights, has recently been through a major crisis started with a romantic affair within the organization, also described as ‘sex scandal’.
What is Ordo Iuris? It is a right-wing think tank with great links to the church and the government. Ordo Iuris has been behind many anti-human rights initiatives introduced by PiS in recent year, including the abortion ban and hate speech campaigns against LGBT+ people.
Ordo Iuris drafts bills, creates analysis, lobbies in the parliament, funds massive communication campaigns. It has created a number of satellite organizations, which receive grants from governmental sources.
Recently its experts have established Collegium Intermarium, a law school that is supposed to form a new generation of conservative leaders. Ordo Iuris is a part of a rich and influential international network, Tradition, Family, Property (TFP), which has been accused of being a religious sect in several countries.
It is also the European arm of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) headed by Jay Sekulow, Donald Trump’s former lawyer.
Ordo Iuris people are so influential as they have been also given position in many ministries, governmental agencies and courts where they promote ultra-conservative agenda. In 2021 the government of Mateusz Morawiecki nominated Aleksander Stępkowski, former president of Ordo Iuris, for the post of judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (he was rejected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe).
Recently, Ordo Iuris participated in discussions on restricting a right to divorce. However, in first weeks of 2022, something unexpected happened. A split occurred. A young and influential vice-president Tymoteusz Zych left Ordo Iuris with a group of dozen coworkers.
Officially, the decision was made due to “differences in visions” and a lack of agreement with current chairman Jerzy Kwaśniewski. However, public opinion was quickly informed that this move was motivated by personal reasons and an internal scandal.
Apparently, right wing fanatics who fight so vigorously for traditional families, live themselves much different lives. Media found out that Zych had a long-lasting affair with his colleague from the organization, the director of the International Law Centre Karolina Pawłowska. Both of them are married, both had children from their marriages.
For a long time, the affair was said to be an insider secret within the ranks of the organization. However, a few months ago, a violent outburst occurred. Pawłowska’s husband physically attacked Zych in the latter’s office and both men had to be separated by other employees.
Most of Polish media and social media channels were reporting the scandal with passion for a week or so. Private life of Zych and Pawłowska became public and memes with their faces were produced and reproduces in bulk. It also raised ethical questions about invasion of privacy. But most of commentators agree that in this case it is important to inform the public opinion about behavior of these two far-right lawyers and show their hypocrisy.
For years, they have been moralizing, talking about values, trying to limit other people’s rights. Zych and Pawłowicz were behind hateful campaigns accusing, e.g., gay people of threatening marriage and the traditional family model.
This scandal has seriously damaged the reputation of Ordo Iuris and many progressive politicians and NGOs activists hope the organization will lose its power. But knowing its effectiveness and connections, it is difficult to believe. Zych has already established a new think tank, named Logos, that wants to be a softer, less aggressive version of his former employer.