At a party convention last weekend, Jarosław Kaczyński – the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) – made clear that opposition to LGBT+ rights will form part of his election strategy in the coming months. European elections are due to take place in May, and Polish national elections later in the year.
Kaczyński denounced an LGBT+ rights declaration signed by the Mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski, in February, warning voters that such support for LGBT+ rights would “attack families”.
He called the declaration “unbelievable,” and said ‘We will say no to the attack on children. Polish parents have the right to raise their own children.”
The declaration is said to guarantee basic rights for Warsaw’s LGBT+ community and to empower local administrations to provide what the national government has failed to put into practice. It includes promises of an LGBT+ hostel and community centre, a local crisis intervention system and inclusive sex education in Warsaw schools.
Trzaskowski has been quick to defend this so-called attack on the Polish family. In a statement on Facebook, he has responded to Kaczyński’s criticism by stating that the declaration “is about tolerance – to protect our fellow citizens from hate speech, intimidation and lynching.”
Until recently, Trzaskowski writes, Poland’s ruling party “was threatening Poles with a phantom invasion by millions of immigrants.” Today, its leader “talks nonsense about alleged plans to corrupt children”.
Conservative values continue to dominate the conversation around LGBT+ rights in Poland, and Mayor Trzaskowski has faced considerable homophobic backlash over his decision to support the LGBT+ community. On March 1, homophobes at a popular Polish soccer game expressed their distaste for the declaration by unfurling a long banner that read “keep Warsaw free from faggots.”
Polish Olympian Zofia Klepacka joins in the homophobic backlash
Now, Polish Olympian Zofia Klepacka has joined in the barrage of criticism. The windsurfer, who won a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics, took to social media to declare, “I say NO to the promotion of LGBT environments and will defend Polish tradition.”
She went on to reference the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, an unsuccessful rebellion against Nazi rule, and implied those who fought against Nazism at that time would oppose LGBT+ rights were they alive today. “Did my grandfather fight for such a Warsaw in the Uprising? I don’t think so,” she wrote. “Mr Mayor, maybe you should take care of sport in Warsaw, since it is struggling.”
Klepacka’s comments received hundreds of reactions, including many from fans in agreement with her homophobic stance. In a message published on Facebook on Saturday, she thanked her supporters with another message saying that “No one has the right to impose on our children something we parents don’t want!!!!”
The popularity of such statements seems to give the decision by Poland’s ruling party to ground their campaign in homophobia a worrying level of credibility. An actual survivor of the Warsaw Uprising, however, has rebuffed Klepacka’s comments.
“We in the Uprising fought above all for regaining the independence of our homeland, but also for what was most important to us,” said 91 year-old Wanda Traczyk-Stawska in an interview with Polish news outlet Wirtualna Polska. “For our human dignity.”
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