Photo: Peter Tatchell Foundation
Over 100 British and Polish LGBTs and allies rallied outside the Embassy of Poland in London on Saturday in a show of support for the beleaguered LGBT+ community in Poland amid calls for the EU to take action.
The demonstrators held up placards stating: “Stop in the name of love”, “Gay rights = human rights,” and “Solidarity with LGBT Poland.”
“We stand in solidarity with the LGBT+ community in Poland. It is under sustained attack by the right-wing government, Catholic church and far-right extremists,” said Peter Tatchell of human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, who attended the vigil.
Poland is facing a growing wave of homophobia, including right-wing violence against Pride events. Last month, twenty-five right-wing radicals were arrested after they attacked the first Bialystok Pride in Eastern Poland.
Poland’s ruling right-wing party, Law and Justice, has also been accused of increasingly marginalising LGBT people. Its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, described efforts to support LGBT inclusion as “an attack on the family” and a foreign “threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state.”
Some party officials have launched local campaigns to keep cities and regions “LGBT-ideology free.” That was followed by the government-aligned newspaper Gazeta Polska distributing “LGBT-Free Zone” stickers in its publication, despite a court order for it to stop.
“Already 30 towns, cities and provinces have declared themselves to ‘LGBT ideology-free,'” said Tatchell. “Schools that introduced LGBT-inclusive lessons were forced to cancel them on the orders of the education minister. In this toxic atmosphere, opinion polls show that public acceptance of LGBT+ people is declining,” he noted.
The Archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jedraszewski, recently warned of a ‘rainbow threat’ facing the nation. Last year, the crowning of Mr Gay Europe and the Poznan Pride celebrations were also marred by anti-LGBT protests.
“We urge the Polish government to respect the human rights of its LGBT+ citizens, in accordance with the equality and non-discrimination clauses of the Polish constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, which Poland has signed and pledged to uphold,” said Tatchell.
“If the Polish government refuses to do so, the EU should apply sanctions on its political leaders. There should be no tolerance of intolerance,” he insisted.
While LGBT people have some protection from discrimination in Poland, the country remains a conservative one. Same-sex relationships are not legally recognised and same-sex couples cannot adopt children.