Sound the Alarm: Five Things to Know About the Attacks on the LGBTQ Community in Poland

by HRC Staff

Conservative forces have increasingly targeted LGBTQ people as they advocate for equal rights in Poland.

Post submitted by former HRC Global Senior Manager Taylor N.T. Brown

Over the past several months, conservative forces have increasingly targeted LGBTQ people as they advocate for equal rights in Poland. 

Here are the five things you need to know about the situation in Poland and how you can support the LGBTQ community there.

1. Conservative Forces are Increasingly Targeting LGBTQ People in Poland 

These attacks include:

  • Verbal assaults by politicians and the Catholic Church, including from the Archbishop of Krakow who claimed LGBTQ people are threatening Poland with a “rainbow plague” and the Archbishop of Bialystok who wrote that LGBTQ Pride is “blasphemy against God.”
  • Resolutions enacted by multiple provincial and local governments, such as Swidnik, Lublin and Świętokrzyskie, to declare themselves “LGBT free zones.” A conservative magazine even distributed “LGBT free zone” stickers throughout Poland.
  • Physical attacks and hate-filled speech from anti-LGBTQ opponents at Pride celebrations, including the first-ever Pride in Bialystok.

2. LGBTQ People in Poland Lack Equal Rights and Fundamental Protections

Poland lacks comprehensive protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and does not have marriage equality. Same-sex couples are ineligible for joint and second parent adoption. Transgender people experience obstacles to legal recognition, such as a requirement that they undergo gender affirming therapy. Despite such policies, LGBTQ people in Poland continue to advocate for their rights.

3. The Ruling Party and Its Allies are Using the LGBTQ Community in Electioneering Scare Tactics

Poland will hold parliamentary elections in October, and the incumbent conservative party (PiS) and its allies are distracting the public with vicious attacks on LGBTQ people to win support.

The party characterizes LGBTQ people as pawns of Western countries and the European Union and paints them as outsiders and agitators whose existence and insistence on equal rights is antithetical to Polish values. 

The leader of the PiS argued for Poles to reject “this traveling theater that is showing up in different cities to provoke and then cry,” in reference to LGBTQ advocates. He also referred to LGBTQ advocacy as “imported” and “a threat to the Polish identity.”

4. The Trump-Pence Administration Has Failed to Speak Up for LGBTQ Rights in Poland

This is another example of the administration’s failure to support the human rights of LGBTQ people.

5. The LGBTQ Community and its Allies Are Organizing and Fighting Back

LGBTQ people and their allies have resisted these hateful attacks. They have claimed their identity as a badge of pride, many coming out for the first time publicly, using the hashtag, #JestemLGBT (“I am LGBT”).

Since the violence in Bialystok, the community has organized for Pride in Płock and other towns across Poland.

In May, HRC Global’s Director of Global Partnerships Jean Freedberg worked with KPH, one of Poland’s leading LGBTQ organizations, to develop a strategic plan to help elevate the group’s communications and messaging efforts. HRC and its partners have continually helped the LGBTQ community build capacity to advocate for change and shined a spotlight on attacks.

What You Can Do

Help HRC sound the alarm on Poland. Make your voice heard by sharing this and other information from HRC and its partners in support of the community.