Polish MP, Tomasz Rzymkowski, who has a history of making homophobic, xenophobic and racist remarks, has been promoted to the deputy minister for education in Poland.
Rzymkowski has been a member of Poland’s ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) since 2019. He spent the earlier parts of his political career as a representative of the ultranationalist party National Movement.
The National Movement, which formed following the 2012 Independence Day march which ended in violence between far-right nationalists and police.
Along with its strong opposition of LGBTQ+ rights, the National Movement has been described as xenophobic and anti-Semitic.
On LGBTQ+ rights, the party has condemned Pride marches and inclusive education and have spread disinformation linking homosexuality to paedophilia.
Forming a coalition with the party KORWiN, one member described some of the values of the coalition: “We don’t want Jews, homosexuals, abortion, taxes and the EU.”
Last year Rzymkowski was criticised for sharing a cartoon that compared same-sex marriage to bestiality.
W dniu 28 czerwca wybierzemy nie tylko Prezydenta RP, dokonamy także wyboru cywilizacyjnego. Zdecydujemy miedzy Polską, w której małżeństwem jest związek kobiety i mężczyzny, a Polską w której "małżeństwem" jest związek dwóch panów albo jednego pana z kozą? pic.twitter.com/K7eJdiEZxy
— Tomasz Rzymkowski (@TRzymkowski) June 3, 2020
He wrote on Twitter ahead of the Polish presidential election: “On June 28, we will elect not only the president of the Republic of Poland, we will also make a civilisation choice.
“Will choose Poland, where the marriage is a union of a woman and a man, and Poland where the ‘marriage’ is a union of two men or one man with a goat?”
As deputy education minister, the Polish MP and his bigoted ideologies will have much influence on future policy.
Also a “gender critic”, he has previously targeted the teaching of what he describes as “gender ideology”:
“[Homosexuality] is harmful both morally and socially, because in my opinion, first of all, it is a sin.
“Second, it is not useful from the point of view of society… the state should not promote, let alone finance or forge, socially harmful behaviour,” the Polish MP said.
Paulina Matysiak, an MP for the left-wing Left Together party, told VICE: “Tomasz Rzymkowski represents a very dangerous mix of extreme, almost fascist, right with religious fundamentalism, that concentrates most of his public activity on turning people against Jews, foreigners, LGBT+, women and the Left.”
She added: “There is a serious threat that [Rzymkowski and anti-LGBT+ education minister Przemysław Czarnek] could censor educational materials, repress teachers, and try to form pupils in their image and likeness.”
Over the past two years, the rise in homophobic discourse in Poland has resulted in over a third of the country declaring itself an ‘LGBT+ free zone’.
This rhetoric is echoed by President Duda whos right-wing party PiS has been chipping away at LGBTQ+ rights since they came into power.
Duda was re-elected in July last year by a slim margin, but those who could avail of a postal vote in Ireland overwhelmingly supported his more liberal rival.
As Poland’s government continues down a treacherous right-wing path, hundreds of thousands of citizens took to the streets to protest the commencement of a near-total ban on abortion.
Public outrage at abortion ban in Poland.
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) January 28, 2021
In October, Poland’s constitutional tribunal previously decided to further restrict the country’s abortion laws, ruling that termination should be illegal even in cases where a foetus has been diagnosed with serious or irreversible birth defects.
In November, an estimated 100,000 people gathered in the streets of Warsaw shouting pro-choice and anti-PiS slogans during the largest demonstration since PiS assumed office in 2015. Over the span of two weeks, protesters have come out in force to stand against the tribunal’s decision and this infringement upon human rights.
"When we speak of hell for women, we can also speak of hell for the government. We are going to make this hell for you.”
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) January 28, 2021
These scenes were mirrored yesterday as crowds marched to PiS Party headquarters in Warsaw with some singing ‘I Will Survive’, while others chanted “I think, I feel, I decide!” and “Freedom of choice instead of terror!”. Several activists waved Pride flags as they marched.
“I want us to have our basic rights, the right to decide about our bodies, the right to decide what we want to do and if we want to bear children and in what circumstances to have children,” one protester, Gabriela Stepniak, told Reuters.
© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.