In a statement published online today, September 28, Polish education minister Przemysław Czarnek formally apologised for homophobic remarks he made in 2020. The minister concluded his apology saying that he still stands “by his views”.
Przemysław Czarnek became education minister in Poland in early October 2020. He is well-known for his opposition to LGBTQ+ rights and for his positions on women’s rights and his support of corporal punishment for children. He has also been very vocal in his opposition to the so-called “LGBT ideology”, a false concept that has been used in Poland to establish the “LGBT-free zones”, where the rights of queer people are constantly undermined.
During the 2020 Polish presidential elections, Czarnek appeared on live television and had what The Guardian deemed “the most homophobic outburst” of the whole campaign. Indeed, speaking about the LGBTQ+ community, he said: “Let’s stop listening to this idiocy about some human rights or some equality. These people are not equal to normal people.”
The homophobic words sparked huge backlash from the LGBTQ+ community at the time and resulted in a lawsuit being filed against the Polish minister by Jakub Urbanik, a lecturer at Warsaw University who is very vocal about LGBTQ+ rights.
Oświadczenie ws. sporu z prof. Jakubem Urbanikiem pic.twitter.com/CXSJRLDEUG
— Przemysław Czarnek (@CzarnekP) September 28, 2022
As a result of the lawsuit, Czarnek was forced to issue a formal apology, which dates from July this year, but was only made public on social media today. “I, the undersigned Przemysław Czarnek, Minister of Education and Science, retract my words made on June 13, 2020 on TVP Info and August 3, 2020 on Radio Maryja”.
However, even though he formally apologised, he concluded those words by saying that he still stands by his views. “My intention was not to offend anyone, including people from the LGBT+ community, in particular Mr. Prof. Jakub Urbanik,” continues the statement.
On a Facebook post, professor Urbanik commented on the minister’s statement, saying: “We shall never cease fighting homophobia. It is a small step, but leading to fulfilment of the protection of human dignity as stipulated by the art. 47 of the Constitution [which guarantees personal freedoms].”
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