Right-wing populist incumbent Andrzej Duda has been re-elected as President in Poland. Backed by the ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), the narrow winning of Duda signals the further persecution of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community in the country. Duda is accused by the LGBTQ community and its allies for using extreme homophobic slurs and anti-Semitic overtones in the past and during his electoral campaigns. He defeated his liberal opponent Rafał Trzaskowski with 51.2 percent of the vote, making it one of Poland’s tightest elections in history.
The hate and violence instigated on the LGBTQ community have escalated in the last five years of Duda’s regime. He has openly voiced his disapproval of LGBTQ rights and called for policies that deny human rights for them multiple times during the course of his tenure.
Few weeks before the election, Duda insinuated an amendment in Poland’s constitution to ban same-sex couples from adopting children in the name of child protection. “The Polish constitution should include an entry saying that it is forbidden to adopt a child by a person who lives in a single-sex relationship,” Duda said.
During his electoral campaign, Duda accused the LGBT rights movement of endorsing ideas ‘more harmful than communism’, while also agreeing with another conservative politician who stated: “LGBT is not people, it’s an ideology.” He thinks the so-called ideology “is even more destructive to the human being”. He doesn’t support the union of same-sex couples. Additionally, he signed a “family values” declaration draft that bans the teaching of LGBTQ rights in public institutions to children under the guise of “protecting children from LGBT ideology.”
The Catholic archbishop of Poland, who has ties with PiS, has spoken of homosexuals as “Rainbow Plague” in a sermon. He said, “Our land is no longer affected by the red plague, which does not mean that there is no new one that wants to control our souls, hearts, and minds. Not Marxist, Bolshevik, but born of the same spirit, neo-Marxist. Not red, but a rainbow.”
The fuels of anti-LGBT sentiments were fanned further when several municipalities across Poland was declared ‘LGBT-Free Zone’ to hinder the promotion of LGBTQ rights. As of 2020, a third of Poland has pledged to abide by the ‘LGBT-Free Zone’ propaganda. Although it holds no legal value, the symbolic value manages to disrupt and intimidate the lives of the LGBTQ people. In the same year, a conservative newspaper introduced a campaign to distribute ‘LGBT-Free Zone’ stickers – a black cross over a rainbow flag. As activists condemned the campaign, a district court banned the distribution immediately.
LGBTQ people continue to be assaulted by nationalists’ Polish mob. During the 2019 Pride March, the protestors were beaten and pelted with stones, firecrackers, and bottles (some filled with urine). Many have fled the country fearing death, while others stay to change the system.
Poland has ranked to be the worst country in the European Union for LGBTQ people. The EU criticized Polish authorities saying “it is wrong to target minorities for political gain” for steadily highlighting anti-LGBT rhetoric’s in their election campaigns. In 2019, The European Parliament adopted a resolution on ‘discrimination and hate speech against LGBTI people’ and urged the Polish Government to revoke their discrimination. ‘We cannot allow the distribution of LGBTI free zone stickers, or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions and not feel responsible for the next phase where physical attacks take place, even if they are carried out by other people,’ said European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli.
Featured Image Via Canva