The Anti-LGBTQ Agenda in Poland

Emma C

The 21st century is a time when society has been most progressive in terms of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and overall being more accepting to all. There has been some pushback to this trend with some countries returning to more traditional values and ideas, many of which have right wing governments. One country in particular who has started moving back to the right is Poland with its current party in power, Law and Justice.

The Law and Justice party built their platform on right leaning traditional values. With Poland having a historically large Catholic population, it shouldn’t be surprising that the government would reflect the same values. The Law and Justice party was founded by Jaroslaw Kaczyński and his twin brother in 2001 on the basis of strong nationalistic ideas and radical viewpoints. The main focus of their platform was to build upon the idea of Polish national identity.

In this situation national identity is defined as a set of characteristics, whether it be race, culture, etc with which citizens of a nation use to identify themselves as being a part of their country. The Law and Justice party have built their notion of Polish national identity as being traditional, with gender roles, religion and a Poland first ideology. The use of national identity allows the far-right government to build an “us versus them” condition, where it is Poland, meaning those with more traditional views, against those who want to see a more progressive side to their country and do not want to return to traditional values.

An example of the “us versus them” stance taking place in Poland right now is the othering of the LGBTQ community. The Law and Justice party advertises themselves as being at the front of a crusade to save traditional family values and the LGBTQ community threatens this campaign. The government claims that the LGBTQ ideology is a movement based on foreign ideas formed from Western and foreign influence in Poland. This idea of foreign interference also fuels the “us versus them” battle in Poland, as the government advocates traditional values and says that all other mindsets are a result of foreign influence.

The tactics that the far-right government is currently using in Poland is reminiscent of other far-right groups in history. Parties build their platform on the idea of nationalism and national identity and convince their followers that they are doing what is best for their country. Traditionally these parties are governed by religious undertones, with religious values influencing policies. These policies and alignments can be harmful as state and Church are no longer separate and a party’s religious beliefs can start to govern the country. As in the case of Poland, it is harmful as a right-wing party with a Catholic leader is allowing their religious beliefs to dictate laws in the country, most notably, being that the Catholic religion does not support the LGBTQ community and this influence can be seen throughout Poland through LBGTQ exclusion zones and the government’s public disownment of the community.

Resolutions have passed creating LGBTQ Free Zones in Poland, stating that it is supporting traditional family values and that the LGBTQ community is a threat to the concept of a proper family model. The resolution states that Poland has been shaped by the centuries-old heritage of Christianity and same sex relationships are a threat to traditional Christian identity. Regions covering the population of about 10 million people have adopted the idea of LGBTQ-free zones.

With the government stating that LGBTQ people are a bigger threat to Polish nationalism than communism, it instills fear into people. Fear is one of the main ways that far-right governments control people by teaching them to fear what they do not know or understand, rather than trying to learn about the differences and share facts and information.

With Poland moving back towards more traditional Christian beliefs and values and creating anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, segregation and distrust of the community, it begs the question, will Poland be the only one? With progress towards acceptance in many areas of the globe gaining momentum, it more important than ever to continue the fight for equality and share stories of progress as sitting idly by while countries regress to a place of intolerance, hatred and distrust will only cause more harm and make the fight more difficult for the future. Poland is displaying characteristics that the rest of the world needs to pay attention to in order to support a marginalized community. Allowing those characteristics to turn into policy and mainstream thought will only fuel other countries teetering on the edge of positive change to be drawn back in to the inequitable past.

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