Poland’s LGBTQ+ struggle

The European Commission intervene in Poland’s struggle for gay rights

Photo by Wojtek Radwanski on ForeignPolicy.com.

— 2 minute read — By Derry Salter

Although Poland originally decriminalised homosexuality in a progressive move in 1932, homophobia is still a prominent problem throughout the whole country. Nearly a third of Poland’s towns and regions have declared themselves free from “LGBT ideology” through their rejection of gay and transgender rights. Same-sex marriages are not legal in Poland as well as the denial of legal rights for same-sex couples to adopt children. Albeit these resolutions are not enforced by law and are on a whole largely symbolic, members of the LGBTQ+ community are still faced with an ultimatum: leave their own country, deny their sexuality, or fight for their rights.

The struggle against homophobia originates from the country’s highly religious history with the Catholic Church being decidedly influential on the right-wing government’s policies. The Law and Justice Party are largely at fault for pushing Polish LGBTQ+ people further back into the closet; historically, the right-wing party have used the LGBTQ+ community as a scapegoat for any problems in the country. Furthermore, a preponderance of the party’s senior members only further encourage discrimination against the gay community through voicing their perception that the LGBTQ+ community are harming the traditional family structure in Poland. Andrzej Duda, President of the Law and Justice Party, even went as far to refer to the LGBTQ+ community as more dangerous than communism, consequently creating further distrust in Polish communities. Despite constant regression in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights, protesters continue to fight for equality. There have been multiple protests along the streets of Warsaw in 2020 alone, with activists draping LGTBQ+ flags of statues of Jesus Christ in protest against President Duda’s anti-LGBTQ+ approach.

On 27th September, global ambassadors from 50 countries took a stand against Poland’s anti-LGBTQ+ policies through an open letter to President Duda urging the Polish government to end discrimination against sexual minorities. The US Ambassador, Georgette Mosbacher, wrote, “Human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBTI persons, is entitled to their full enjoyment”. This letter follows previous warnings from the European Commission in July to withhold funding for Polish municipalities if they continue to retain LGTBQ+ free zones. Yet, it is clear that this letter will have little impact on the homophobic actions of the Polish government. President Duda rejected the suggestion that the LGBTQ+ community is oppressed in Poland, supported by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki claiming that Poland does not need to be taught tolerance, arguing that the LGBTQ+ community are not deprived of equal rights in Poland. Consequently, the LGBTQ+ community must continue their long fight for equality in Poland.