Poland, geographically perched between socially progressive Western Europe and conservative Russia plus some of its former satellites, has long had an identity crisis. Since the halcyon days of Solidarność, the popular workers’ union that helped release the country from the clutches of the communists, the country has sought to align itself with the rest of Europe’s democracies. Unfortunately, it can’t seem to shed some of the shocking attitudes that prevail in the superpower beyond its Eastern border. In Russia and Poland alike, open rants against LGBT people often come from those in power — with the encouragement of church leaders. And the hyperbole seems to be growing.
Polish President Andrzej Duda has called the promotion of LGBT rights an “ideology” more destructive than communism, in a campaign speech.
“This is not why my parents’ generation for 40 years struggled to expel communist ideology from schools, so that it could not be foisted on children, could not brainwash and indoctrinate them,” [Duda said] … They did not fight so that we would now accept that another ideology, even more destructive to man, would come along, an ideology which under the clichés of respect and tolerance hides deep intolerance.”
The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), of which Duda is a strong ally, pushes a conservative-nationalist agenda steeped in Catholicism. PiS advocates for “traditional families” and is outspoken in its opposition to marriage equality.
On 10 June, [Duda] signed a “Family Charter” of election proposals, including pledges to prevent gay couples from marrying or adopting children and to ban teaching about LGBT issues in schools.
Poland became a member of the European Union 16 years ago, and its leaders’ dangerous vituperation of anyone who isn’t impeccably straight violates the anti-discrimination principles that the EU expects its member countries to abide by. So far, the Eurocrats have done nothing more than write a few strongly-worded letters.
The European Commission has written to the heads of five Polish provinces expressing concern about resolutions in which they declare themselves “free from LGBT ideology.” The EU’s executive has reminded them of their duty to guarantee non-discrimination as a core EU value.
It’s a nice attempt, but it’ll have no discernible effect in the short term. If the current polls are correct, Duda gets to smear LGBT citizens without paying much of a political price. He is easily the favorite to win the next elections, 13 days from now.
The Polish president is not alone in his attempt to equate Polish LGBT people with the inventors of the gulags. Last August, Krakow’s Catholic archbishop, Marek Jedraszewski, told a crowd of followers that
“The red pestilence no longer marches across our land, but a new, neo-Marxist one has appeared, which seeks to conquer spirits, hearts and minds — not red, but rainbow. The greatest tolerance becomes the height of intolerance when violence, humiliation, and sneers against sacred symbols issue from mouths proclaiming fairness.”
With rank bigotry as its weapon of choice, the state supports the church, and the church the state. It’s as unholy and perilous a combination as ever.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Som for the link)