Homophobia and gay rights have been major issues in the delayed presidential election in Poland. This is after one of the front runners pledged to “defend the children from the ideology of the LGBTQ+ community.”
The incumbent president Andrzej Duda who is allied to the ruling law and justice party made a pledge while launching a family charter. The move was designed to energize the conservative base of the party as the polls showed he had a narrow lead. However, after the vote was moved from the 10th of May to the 28th of June due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Rafał Trzaskowski, the liberal mayor of Warsaw decided to enter the race. Recent polls suggest that in a run off against Andrzej Duda, there is a possibility that the vote will be evenly split.
Rafał Trzaskowski, who belongs to the Civic platform has been an ardent supporter of LGBTQ+ rights since his days as the Warsaw mayor. He also attended the Warsaw Pride, which is the first ever time a mayor from the capital has done so.
There are a number of times when PiS (a national-conservative, Christian right-wing populist political party in Poland), has been accused of democratic erosion and backsliding of the rule of law after winning its parliamentary majority back in 2015. PiS have in several occasions tried to chisel away at gay rights and LGBTQ+ ideology.
The new charter of Andrzej Duda pledges no support for the adoption by gay couples or gay marriage, with Duda describing the latter as being in foreign ideology part. It also seeks to ban LGBTQ+ ideology propagation in public institutions and schools. There are also concerted efforts which are aimed at portraying Rafał Trzaskowski as anti-Polish radical. The pro-government weekly newspaper Sieci featured Rafał Trzaskowski on its cover while wearing a black hoodie and a rainbow armband with the caption ‘The Extremist Candidate.’
According to article 196 of Poland’s criminal code, any person who offends religious feelings of other people by insulating a place of worship or religious object publicly can face up to two years in prison. The government of Poland has managed to defend the actions of the authorities against the activists by saying, “There are particular boundaries which were crossed”. Back in May of 2019, police invoked Article 196 when they arrested artist Elżbieta Podlesna in connection with the picture she created of a religious icon having a rainbow halo.
The overtly blasphemous laws like the Poland’s violate free speech guarantee under the international human rights law. The United Nations, the international human rights body, have already underscored that only the laws that protect against incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence are the ones which can justify criminal sanctions. Both the European convention and International Covenant on Civil and political rights on Human Rights protect speech including acts of protest which can easily offend other people. The protection is the most important thing in case the speech related to fundamental human rights advocacy including equality and nondiscrimination rights.
In the recent past, Poland has been a part of several occasions engulfed by anti-LGBTQ vitriol. The rhetoric part is fueled by the Justice Party and ruling law that has the history of scapegoating LGBTQ+ individuals together with reproductive health and sexual activists for political ends.
Back in July 2020, the European Commission announced that it will withhold development funding for the 6 Polish municipalities as they were reacting to their insistence of retaining the LGBTQ+ free-zone label. The authorities in some parts of Poland cities managed to identify their areas as LGBTQ+ ideology free zones despite the courts trying to curtail their anti-rights pernicious campaign.
About the Author:
Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.
Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.