Poland rejects international criticism over LGBT rights

28 September 2020, 16:54

A man stands on a Rainbow Flag as he attends a demonstration of far-right activists against LGBT rights in Warsaw
Poland LGBT Rights. Picture: PA

An increasingly visible LGBT community in Poland has faced a backlash from the right-wing government, many local communities and the Catholic church.

Polish leaders have rejected suggestions that LGBT people are deprived of any of their rights in the country.

The rejection follows an open letter from 50 ambassadors and international representatives citing a need to work for “non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual acceptance”.

The ambassadors’ appeal comes as an increasingly visible LGBT community in Poland has faced a backlash from the right-wing government, many local communities and the Catholic church.

LGBT rights supporters protest against rising homophobia in Warsaw, Poland
LGBT rights supporters protest against rising homophobia in Warsaw, Poland (AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

“Human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBTI persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment,” the letter said, using the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he agreed that every person deserves respect but that he completely disagreed with the ambassadors’ claim that LGBT people were being deprived of that.

Mr Morawiecki said at a news conference: “To the dear ambassadors, I can only say that tolerance belongs to Polish DNA. Nobody needs to teach us tolerance, because we are a nation that has learned such tolerance for centuries and we have given many testimonies to the history of such tolerance.”

Some of Poland’s leaders, including the president and MPs from the ruling party, have cast the movement for civil rights for LGBT people as a threat to traditional families. President Andrzej Duda won a second term this summer after calling LGBT rights an “ideology” more dangerous than communism.

Meanwhile, dozens of towns in conservative parts of eastern and southern Poland have passed mostly symbolic resolutions declaring themselves to be free from “LGBT ideology”. Many of the declarations express the view that young people will be demoralised if confronted by the issue.

“Human Rights are not an ideology – they are universal,” US ambassador Georgette Mosbacher tweeted. “50 Ambassadors and Representatives agree.”

Joachim Brudzinski, deputy head of the ruling Law and Justice party who is now a European Parliament member, shot back at Ms Mosbacher on Monday, saying “we in Poland also agree”.

“Therefore, we are waiting with hope for the next letter, this time in defence of murdered Christians, imprisoned #ProLife activists, people dismissed from work and persecuted for quoting the Bible, people subjected to euthanasia against their will,” he wrote on Twitter, along with some other examples of alleged abuse of Christians.

It was not exactly clear what Mr Brudzinski was referring to. Poland is a predominantly Catholic nation where Christians do not face persecution and where abortion is illegal in most cases and euthanasia is outlawed. In one case, however, an IKEA employee in Poland was fired for citing Biblical passages to suggest gay people should be killed. The current government has spoken in the employee’s defence and a state prosecutor is suing the IKEA manager who fired him.

By Press Association