Almost 100 local governments, representing a third of Polish territory, have declared themselves “free from LGBT ideology”.
Although the statements have no legal force, they are viewed by many as threatening. And fiery rhetoric has been accused of violence against gays and lesbians.
When protesters attempted to participate in a gay pride parade in the conservative town of Bialystok last summer, opponents threw bricks, stones and fireworks at them. Some demonstrators were attacked and, as the violent clashes escalated, leaving dozens injured, police had to fire tear gas.
Months later, in December, the European Parliament condemned discrimination against the LGBTQ community and called on the government to take action to revoke statements by local authorities. Nothing was done.
In the recent presidential election in Poland in July, the ruling party again targeted gays, lesbians and transgender people. President Andrzej Duda has declared that “LGBT ideology” is more dangerous than communist doctrine and has made it the central issue of his campaign.
He narrowly won a second term, but the close struggle and divisive rhetoric polarized Polish society even more.