PiS accused of targeting LGBT communities
Polish campaigners are conflating gay men with pedophiles and make threatening gestures during pride events in Poland.
Human rights activists face a right-wing backlash, with Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) accused of fuelling and exploiting reactionary sentiments.
Ahead of the autumn general election, PiS is accused of deliberately marginalising Poland’s LGBT community.
The party referred to western “LGBT ideology” in its campaigning that had overtaken its previous targeting of migrants, said Michal Bilewicz of the University of Warsaw.
In 2015, anti-migrant campaigning helped PiS take power but Poland was never a popular destination for non-European immigrants and public attention waned as the numbers arriving in the EU have fallen.
Bogdan Bialek, an activist in the town of Kielce, said PiS had won previous elections with the “management of fear” of migrants. But the anti-LGBT campaign was potentially more dangerous. “It’s not the management of fear but the management of hatred,” Bialek told the Washington Post.
Warsaw’s mayor recently advocated integrating LGBT issues into school curriculums, following World Health Organisation guidelines.
PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said it was an attack on the family and children. He called “LGBT ideology” an external “threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state”.
A campaign advert shows an umbrella with the PiS logo protecting a family from rainbow rain.
The party has declared whole cities and provinces “LGBT-ideology free”.
The Catholic Church and the pro-government media has spread the same message.
This week the right-wing weekly newspaper, Gazeta Polska, said it would include “LGBT-free zone” stickers, which show a rainbow flag with a black cross over it, next week.
The weekly, with a circulation of about 11,000, openly supports PiS.
A law graduate in Warsaw compared the stickers to anti-Jewish signs under the Nazis.
The unnamed source said: “One of the photos comes from the supplement to Gazeta Polska, a magazine associated with PiS. The second picture is the work of the Nazis. Poland in the 21st century and Germany in the 1930s. So far and so close.”
The US ambassador, Georgette Mosbacher, tweeted: “I am disappointed and concerned that some groups use stickers to promote hatred and intolerance. We respect freedom of speech, but we must stand together on the side of values such as diversity and tolerance.”
Poland is ranked among the most restrictive European countries for LGBT rights. Warsaw has been criticised for not keeping accurate records of homophobic hate crimes.
Poland’s LGBT community is a new target for the government. Picture credit: Flickr