LGBT-free zone

Map of Poland, LGBT-free zones declared (as of August 2019) on a voivodeship or powiat level marked in red. [1] [2] [3] [4]

An LGBT-free zone (Polish: Strefa wolna od LGBT[5]) is an act by a Polish municipality,[1][6] powiat (county),[7] or voivodeship (province)[8] declaring their respective regions as free of "LGBT ideology".[9]

While unenforceable and considered primarily symbolic, activists say the declared zones represent an attempt to stigmatize and exclude members of the LGBT community.[6][8] As of August 2019, around 30 different LGBT-free zone declarations have been made in Poland, including four voivodeships in the south-east of the country:[1][2][4][7] Lesser Poland, Podkarpackie, 艢wi臋tokrzyskie, and Lublin.[2]

Background

August 2019 protest in support of Archbishop Marek J臋draszewski's statements on LGBT. Sign reads: "away ([down]) with leftist totalitarian ideology", precz (throw away) is also on the crossed-out gay pride flag

In February 2019, Warsaw's liberal mayor Rafa艂 Trzaskowski signed a declaration supporting LGBTQ rights[8][10] and announced his intention to follow World Health Organization guidelines and integrate LGBT issues into the Warsaw school sex education curricula.[8] PiS politicians objected to the sex education program saying it would sexualize children.[11] PiS party leader Jaros艂aw Kaczy艅ski responded to the declaration, calling LGBT rights "an import" that threatened Poland.[12] The declaration "enraged and galvanized" conservative politicians and conservative media in Poland, according to The Daily Telegraph.[8] The LGBT-free zone declarations are considered to be a reaction to the Warsaw declaration.[8][13]

painting of a madonna and child with halos rendered in rainbow colors
Pride marcher in Cz臋stochowa holding the Rainbow Madonna, a depiction of Black Madonna of Cz臋stochowa with the halo replaced by rainbow colors. In May 2019, civil-rights activist El偶bieta Podle艣na was arrested for the charge of offending religious sentiment in relation to distribution of such posters. [14] [15]

According to The Daily Telegraph, the conservative establishment is fearful of a liberal transition that may erode the power of the Catholic Church in Poland in a manner similar to the transition around the Irish Church.[8] Decreasing Church attendance, rising secularization, and sexual abuse scandals have put pressure on the conservative position.[8] In May 2019, Polish police arrested civil-rights activist El偶bieta Podle艣na for putting up posters of the Black Madonna of Cz臋stochowa with the halo painted rainbow colors for the charge of offending religious sentiment, which is illegal in Poland.[14][15] Also in May, two weeks prior to the 2019 European Parliament election, a documentary on child sex abuse in the Church, was released online.[14] The documentary was expected to hurt the Church-aligned PiS electorally, which led PiS leader Kaczy艅ski to speak heatedly of the Polish nation and children as being under attack by deviant foreign ideas, which led conservative voters to rally around PiS.[14] According to feminist scholar Agnieszka Graff, "The attack on LGBT was triggered by the [Warsaw] Declaration, but that was just a welcome excuse", as PiS sought to woo the rural-traditional demographic and needed a scapegoat to replace migrants.[14]

In August 2019, the Archbishop of Krak贸w Marek J臋draszewski said LGBT people were like a "rainbow plague" in a sermon commemorating the Warsaw uprising.[16][17][18] Not long after, a drag queen simulated his murder on stage.[19]

As of 2019, being openly gay in Poland's small towns and rural areas "[takes] increasing physical and mental fortitude" due to the efforts of Polish authorities and the Catholic Church, according to The Telegraph.[8] Public perceptions, however, have been becoming more tolerant of gays.[8][11] In 2001, 41 percent of Poles surveyed stated that "being gay wasn鈥檛 normal and shouldn鈥檛 be tolerated" whereas 24 percent said so in 2017, 5 percent said "being gay was normal" in 2001 while 16 percent said so in 2017.[11]

Declarations

LGBT-free zone motions are made by Polish municipalities,[1][6] powiats (counties),[7] and voivodeships (provinces)[8] who declare the regions under their control as free of "LGBT ideology"[9] in reaction to the declaration.[13] While unenforceable, activists say the declared zones represent attempts to exclude the LGBT community.[6][8] Activist Olga Kaczorek called the declarations "a statement saying that a specific kind of people is not welcome there."[6]

In March 2019, the town of 艢widnik in eastern Poland passed a resolution rejecting "LGBT ideology".[11]

As of August 2019, around 30 different LGBT-free zones have been declared in Poland, including four voivodeships in the south-east of the country:[1][2][4][7] Lesser Poland, Podkarpackie, 艢wi臋tokrzyskie, and Lublin.[2] The four Voivodeships form the "historically conservative" part of Poland.[6]

Powiats adopting such measures include: Bia艂ystok County, Jaros艂aw County, Lesko County, Lubacz贸w County, Mielec County, Pu艂awy County, Ryki County, 艢widnik County, Tarn贸w County, and Zamo艣膰 County.[3]

Law and Justice party

Ahead of the 2015 Polish parliamentary election, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party took an anti-migrant stance.[1] With migration slowing significantly,[6] in the run-up to the 2019 Polish parliamentary election the party has focused on countering Western "LGBT ideology".[1] PiS leader Jaros艂aw Kaczy艅ski labelled migrants as "parasites and protozoa" in 2015, while in 2019 he rebuked the Warsaw mayor's pro-LGBTQ declaration as "an attack on the family and children" and stated that LGBTQ was an "imported" ideology.[8]

After Archbishop J臋draszewski made his speech calling "LGBT ideology" a "rainbow plague", the Polish minister for aid defended the comments.[17]

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro ordered an investigation of Ikea after it fired an employee who expressed homophobic sentiments, which according to The Washington Post, "[kept] the conflict in the news".[1][16]

Stickers

LGBT-free zone stickers distributed by the Gazeta Polska newspaper

The conservative Gazeta Polska newspaper issued "LGBT-free zone" stickers to readers.[20] The Polish opposition and diplomats, including US ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, condemned the stickers.[9][21] Gazeta editor in chief Tomasz Sakiewicz replied to the criticism with: "what is happening is the best evidence that LGBT is a totalitarian ideology".[21]

The Warsaw district court ordered that distribution of the stickers should halt pending the resolution of a court case.[22] However Gazeta's editor dismissed the ruling saying it was "fake news" and censorship, and that the paper would continue distributing the stickers.[23] Gazeta continued distribution of the stickers, but modified the decal to read "LGBT Ideology-Free Zone".[22]

In July Polish media chain Empik, the country's largest, refused to stock Gazeta Polska after it issued the stickers.[18] In August 2019, a show organized by the Gazeta Polska Community of America scheduled for October 24 in Carnegie Hall in New York was cancelled after complaints of anti-LGBT ties led to artists pulling out of the show.[24][25]

Demonstrations

Nationalists counter-protesting June 2019 Rzesz贸w pride parade
June 2019 Rzesz贸w pride parade

In Rzesz贸w, after LGBT activists submitted a request to hold a pride march, PiS councilors drafted a resolution to make Rzesz贸w an LGBT-free zone as well as outlaw the event itself.[14] Some 29 requests for counter-demonstrations reached city hall, which led mayor Tadeusz Ferenc, of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance, to ban the march due to security concerns.[14] The ban was then overturned by a court ruling.[14] PiS councilors put forward a resolution outlawing "LGBT ideology", which was defeated by two votes.[14]

Following the violent events in the first Bia艂ystok equality march[6][26] and the Gazeta Polska stickers a demonstration for tolerance was held in Gda艅sk[27] on 23 July 2019, with the slogan "zone free of zones" (Polish: Strefa wolna od stref).[28][29][30] In Szczecin a demonstration under the slogan of "hate-free zone" (Polish: Strefa wolna od nienawi艣ci) took place,[30][31] and in 艁贸d藕 left-wing politicians handed out "hate-free zone" stickers.[30][32]

Reactions

Synagogue in Bydgoszcz, German-occupied Poland, 1939. Nazi banner proclaiming city is judenfrei (free of Jews). This image was tweeted by a representative of Robert Biedro艅's party in response to the LGBT-free zones. [33] [34]

Support for declarations

Bo偶ena Biery艂o, a PiS councilwoman in Bia艂ystok County, said the legislation in Bia艂ystok county was required due to LGBT "provocations" and "demands" for sex education instruction.[9]

The national PiS party has encouraged the local declarations, with a PiS official handing out medals in Lublin to local politicians who supported the declarations.[1]

Criticism of declarations

In July 2019, Polish Ombudsman Adam Bodnar stated that "the government is increasing homophobic sentiments" with remarks "on the margins of hate speech".[1] Bodnar said he is preparing an appeal to the administrative court against the declarations, as according to Bodnar they are not only political but also have a normative character that affects the lives of people in the declared region.[7][35]

In July 2019, Warsaw city Councillor Marek Szolc and the Polish Society for Anti-Discrimination Law [pl] (PTPA) released a legal opinion stating that LGBT-free zone declarations stigmatize and exclude people and are illegal as they violate article 32 of the Constitution of Poland which guarantees equality and lack of discrimination.[13][36][37]

In August 2019, multiple LGBT community members have stated that they feel unsafe in Poland.[17]

The Razem party stated: "Remember how the right [were scared] of the so-called [Muslim] no-go zones? Thanks to the same right, we have our own no-go zones."[38][39]

Liberal politicians and media and human rights activists have compared the declarations to Nazi-era declarations of areas being judenfrei (free of Jews). Left-leaning Italian newspaper la Repubblica called it "a concept that evokes the term 'Judenfrei'".[40][41] Campaign Against Homophobia director Slava Melnyk compared the declarations to "1933, when there were also free zones from a specific group of people."[42] Warsaw's deputy president Pawe艂 Rabiej tweeted, "The German fascists created zones free of Jews. Apartheid, of blacks."[20][34]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Polish towns advocate 'LGBT-free' zones while the ruling party cheers them on". The Washington Post. 21 July 2019. reprint at The Independent
  2. ^ a b c d e "Krakowski magistrat odpowiada na homofobiczny akt "Gazety Polskiej"" [The Krakow municipality responds to the homophobic act of "Gazeta Polska"]. Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish). Krakow. 19 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Gdzie w Polsce przyj臋to uchwa艂y przeciw "ideologii LGBT"?" [Where in Poland were the resolutions adopted against "LGBT ideology"?] (in Polish). ONET. 23 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Figlerowicz, Marta (August 9, 2019). "The New Threat to Poland's Sexual Minorities". ISSN 0015-7120. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  5. ^ "Outrage over 'LGBTQ-free zone' stickers distributed by Polish magazine". New York Daily News. 25 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Why 'LGBT-free zones' are on the rise in Poland". CBC. 27 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Adam Bodnar: przygotowuj臋 si臋 do zaskar偶enia uchwa艂 w sprawie ideologii LGBT" [Adam Bodnar: I'm preparing to appeal against resolutions banning LGBT ideology]. TVN24 (in Polish). 22 July 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Polish ruling party whips up LGBTQ hatred ahead of elections amid 'gay-free' zones and Pride march attacks". The Daily Telegraph. 9 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d "Anti-Gay Brutality in a Polish Town Blamed on Poisonous Propaganda". The New York Times. 27 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Pride and prejudice: Poland at war over gay rights before vote". South China Morning Post. 9 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d Goclowski, Marcin; Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Anna (21 May 2019). "Polish towns go 'LGBT free' ahead of bitter European election campaign". Reuters.
  12. ^ Roache, Madeline (July 3, 2019). "Poland Is Holding Massive Pride Parades. But How Far Have LGBTQ Rights Really Come?". Time. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c "Konferencja prasowa na rzecz os贸b LGBT+" [Press release about LGBT+ people] (in Polish). Polish Society for Anti-Discrimination Law. 19 July 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ciobanu, Claudia (26 June 2019). "'FOREIGN IDEOLOGY': POLAND'S POPULISTS TARGET LGBT RIGHTS". Balkan Insight.
  15. ^ a b "LGBT Virgin Mary triggers Polish activist's detention". BBC News. 14 May 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Poland's ruling party fuels anti-LGBT sentiment ahead of elections". Financial Times. 11 August 2019.
  17. ^ a b c "Activists warn Poland's LGBT community is 'under attack'". Euronews. 8 August 2019.
  18. ^ a b Luxmoore, Jonathan (August 19, 2019). "Church in Poland continues confrontation with the LGBTQ community". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  19. ^ "Drag queen "symulowa艂 zab贸jstwo" J臋draszewskiego. KEP i RPO komentuj膮 kontrowersyjny wyst臋p" [Drag queen "simulated the murder" of J臋draszewski: KEP and RPO comment on the controversial performance]. Rmf24.pl (in Polish). August 14, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  20. ^ a b "Polish newspaper to issue 'LGBT-free zone' stickers". BBC News. 18 July 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Conservative Polish magazine issues 'LGBT-free zone' stickers". Reuters. 24 July 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Polish Court Rebukes "LGBT-Free Zone" Stickers". HRW. 1 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Polish magazine dismisses court ruling on 'LGBT-free zone' stickers". Politico. 26 July 2019.
  24. ^ CARNEGIE HALL CONCERT LINKED TO ANTI-LGBT MAGAZINE CANCELED, Newsweek, Jake Maher, 26 August 2019
  25. ^ Group connected to 'LGBT-Free Zone' newspaper cancels Carnegie Hall event, NBC, Tim Fitzsimons, 26 August 2019
  26. ^ "Polish city holds first LGBTQ pride parade despite far-right violence". CNN. 21 July 2019.
  27. ^ "Right-wing Polish magazine slammed for anti-LGBT stickers". San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. 24 July 2019.
  28. ^ Dzwonnik, Maciej (23 July 2019). ""Ka偶dy r贸wny, wszyscy r贸偶ni". W Gda艅sku odby艂 si臋 protest przeciwko nienawi艣ci" ["Everyone is equal, everyone is different": A protest against hatred took place in Gdansk]. Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish). Tricity.
  29. ^ ""Strefa wolna od stref" - manifestacja przeciwko nienawi艣ci, w ge艣cie solidarno艣ci z LGBT w Gda艅sku" ["Zone free of zones" 鈥 a manifestation against hatred, in a gesture of solidarity with LGBT in Gdansk]. Dziennik Baltycki (in Polish). 23 July 2019.
  30. ^ a b c "Solidarni z Bia艂ymstokiem. Marsze, zbi贸rki i #T臋czowa艢roda" [Solidarity with Bialystok: Marches, rebounds and #T臋czowa艢roda]. Polityka (in Polish). 23 July 2019.
  31. ^ "Szczecin - strefa wolna od nienawi艣ci! W odpowiedzi na t臋 furi臋, ten rynsztok" [Szczecin 鈥 a zone free from hatred! In response to this fury, this gutter]. Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish). 26 July 2019.
  32. ^ "艁贸d藕 razem z Bia艂ymstokiem. Rozdano wlepki "strefa wolna od nienawi艣ci", b臋dzie pikieta" [艁贸d藕 together with Bia艂ystok: "Hate Free Zone" stickers were distributed, there will be a picket]. Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish). 23 July 2019.
  33. ^ "Polnisches Magazin verteilt Aufkleber "LGBT-freie Zone"" [Polish magazine distributed "LGBT-free zone" stickers]. Queer.de (in German). 18 July 2019.
  34. ^ a b Fitzsimons, Tim (19 July 2019). "Polish magazine criticized for planning 'LGBT-free zone' stickers". NBC News. While conservative social media users cheered the move on Twitter and on Facebook, many liberal Poles connected the effort to create "LGBT-free" zones to Nazi efforts to create zones free of Jews.
  35. ^ "Right-wing Polish magazine issues anti-LGBT stickers". Bangkok Post. 24 July 2019.
  36. ^ "Samorz膮dy przyjmuj膮 tak zwane uchwa艂y anty-LGBT" [Local governments adopt anti-LGBT resolutions]. TVN24 (in Polish). 25 July 2019.
  37. ^ "Ustawy region贸w "wolnych od LGBT" s膮 niezgodne z prawem" [The laws of "LGBT free" regions are unlawful]. Queer.pl (in Polish). 22 July 2019.
  38. ^ "Polish newspaper is handing out 'LGBT-free zone' stickers". Gay Star News. 18 July 2019.
  39. ^ ""Gazeta Polska" drukuje naklejki "Strefa wolna od LGBT". Czy kto艣 w redakcji s艂ysza艂 o nazistach?" ["Gazeta Polska" prints "LGBT free zone" stickers. Has anyone in the editorial heard about the Nazis?]. Gazeta.pl (in Polish). 17 July 2019.
  40. ^ "Polonia, botte e insulti al gay-pride di Bialystok" [Poland, beatings and insults to the gay pride of Bialystok]. la Repubblica (in Italian). 21 July 2019.
  41. ^ "RPO o 鈥濻trefie wolnej od LGBT": Polsce grozi dyskryminacja na rynku us艂ug" [RPO on the "LGBT Free Zone": Poland is facing discrimination in the services market]. Rzeczpospolita (in Polish). 5 August 2019.
  42. ^ 艁ucyan, Magda (19 July 2019). "Naklejki "Strefa wolna od LGBT". Komentarz ambasador i odpowied藕 rz膮du" [Newspaper promotes stickers with the words "LGBT free zone": US ambassador "disappointed and worried"]. TVN24 (in Polish).

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