After ‘LGBT-free zones’: The outset of political campaigning in Poland

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After ‘LGBT-free zones’: The outset of political campaigning in Poland

At the beginning of political campaign in Poland some government figures suggest that one can be either ‘homophobic’, or ‘Christianophobic’.

“I would examine that”

On the 26th of June 2022, during a meeting with the residents of the small Polish city Włocławek, Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, noted that there are “bizarre beliefs”on the left of the political spectrum that everyone can change their gender whenever they feel like it. While he accepted that one can have such an opinion, he concluded it by saying: “I would examine that.”[1]

Is stabbing a doll a criminal act?

Just two days earlier, the District Court in Poznań acquitted Marek M., the drag queen performing under the pseudonym ‘Mariolkaa Rebell’ after a year-long court case concerning one of their performances.[2] The prosecution accused Rebell of inciting to commit murder.[3] The prosecution claimed that Rebell supposedly slit the throat of the inflatable doll with a glued photo of the Cracow’s Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski’s face to signal condemnation of his homily about the “rainbow plague.”[4]

The case has been presented by the Ministry of Justice nominates as proof that LGBTQ+ environments are fundamentally anti-Christian.[5] In the judgement, the court pointed out that there was no evidence of this being the case and acquitted Rebell. In response, Zbigniew Ziobro, the Minister of Justice, commented that the court should be ashamed of such a compromising judgement as it refused to protect the archbishop.[6] The spokesperson for the Cracow diocese refused to comment on the case itself, as they were not one of the parties engaged in the process, but noted that “what happened in Poland, the aggression towards the clergymen, including bishops, is just shameful, and we will never support it.”[7]

‘Transgender’ as the new enemy at the outset of political campaigning

These events show that transgender rights are emerging as a defining issue at the outset of political campaigning in Poland. As some commenters pointed out, this is a continuation of the polarising tactics of the ruling party since 2015, which focused first on refugees, later on gay couples (including the infamous ‘LGBT-free’ zones[8]), and now on transgender people.[9] The emergence of a new category to vilify might be a signal that a political campaign before the next year’s parliamentary and municipal elections has started. The politics of the government, supported by some parts of the Catholic Church including the Cracow diocese, attempted to create a sense that you can be either ‘homophobic’ or ‘Christianophobic’. This way, the debate was polarised in a similar way to abortion, divided into ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ supporters.

Public perception is more complex

The public perception, however, is more complex. The support towards marriage for homosexual couples grows rapidly, from 16% in 2010 to 29% in 2019, and 34% at the end of 2021.[10] Similarly, the attitudes within the Catholic Church are more complex than the highly publicised comments of some hierarchs.[11] [12]

The attempt to antagonise transgender people may backfire

Thus, the attempt to rally the electoral support by vilifying transgender people might be a misreading of social attitudes on the part of the government. The attempt to claim the status of “defenders of Christianity” may fail too, considering the rapid pace at which people are leaving the Catholic Church in Poland.[13] Even the politicians of the far-right Confederacy seem cautious in following in the footsteps of the government, pointing out that this is a “replacement issue” to move the public attention from mounting economic and infrastructural problems.[14]

While the focus on ‘transgender’ might represent the old tactics under the new guise, the result may be different this time. It might be a turning point for Polish politics and social support for LGBTQ+ rights more broadly.

Ryszard Bobrowicz

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[1] Jarosław Kaczyński o osobach LGBT+: ja bym to badał | Newsweek

[2] Sąd uniewinnił drag queen i zrecenzował abp. Jędraszewskiego. Prokuratura Ziobry przegrywa

[3] Drag queen chciała śmierci abp. Jędraszewskiego? Prokurator: Za taką sztukę należy się kara

[4] Abp Jędraszewski powie, jak walczyć z “tęczową zarazą” – rp.pl

[5] Poznań. Sąd uniewinnił drag queen i zrecenzował abp. Marka Jędraszewskiego. Prokuratura Zbigniewa Ziobry przegrywa (wyborcza.pl)

[6] Ziobro wściekły po uniewinnieniu drag queen z Poznania. Obrażał ją na konferencji prasowej

[7] Kraków. Drag queen uniewinniony ws. rzekomego nawoływania do zabójstwa abp. M. Jędraszewskiego. Wyrok nie jest prawomocny | Gazeta Krakowska

[8] Poland: LGBT-free zones and ban on Pride marches – EARS (europeanacademyofreligionandsociety.com)

[9] W 2015 uchodźcy, w 2019 geje, dziś – osoby trans (krytykapolityczna.pl)

[10] CBOSNews 2021/33

[11] Papież popiera duszpasterstwo osób homoseksualnych | eKAI

[12] „OutInChurch”. Wielki coming out w Kościele katolickim w Niemczech | Życie w Niemczech. Społeczeństwo, lifestyle, ciekawostki | DW | 24.01.2022

[13] Poland – an example of delayed secularisation? – EARS (europeanacademyofreligionandsociety.com)

[14] Jarosław Kaczyński o osobach LGBT+: ja bym to badał | Newsweek