Poland’s ruling party attacks LGBTI education in lead up to elections

Marchers gather for the Equality Parade in Warsaw yesterday

Poland’s ruling party will attack opposition support for LGBTI education in the lead-up to the two key elections.

The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) will lay out warnings that opposition support for LGBTI education could threaten Polish culture, Reuters reports.

PiS maintains that support for LGBTI education comes from ‘Western liberalism’ and infringes on traditional Catholic values.

The party, which promotes social conservatism and Catholic teachings, has condemned a sex education program planned to be taught in schools throughout the capital, Warsaw.

PiS’ attack on LGBTI rights comes after the party has experienced ailing support among the electorate in recent months.

The party has been hit by a number of scandals, including corruption allegations, and concerns over the business dealings of party chief, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

‘Isn’t a normal discussion about LGBT rights’

The move comes as Poland is gearing up for important two elections over the next year.

The European Parliament elections are set to take place for May, and the country’s parliamentary elections scheduled for the autumn.

PiS, which has been in government since 2015, has stated the opposition to school lessons on sexual orientation, discrimination, and reproductive health.

‘The whole social mechanism of preparing a young person, first a child and then a youth, for future roles as women and men, to start a family, for the role of mother and father, is being questioned. It could be destroyed,’ Kaczynski said at a recent PiS party convention.

However, some commentators have accused PiS of utilizing fearmongering and homophobia in order to gain support.

‘What the ruling party is doing isn’t a normal discussion about LGBT rights,’ sociologist Malgorzata Fuszara told Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita last week.

‘Through certain connotations, linking this subject with a so-called threat to children, politicians are trying to create an atmosphere of fear.’

Analysists have said that similar tactics have worked for PiS in the past, including promoting anti-immigration sentiments in the lead-up to the 2015 elections.

In October 2018, a number of schools across Poland canceled a day designed to promote LGBTI acceptance due to governmental pressure.

The following November, Polish President Andrzej Duda said he would support a ban of ‘homosexual propaganda’.

His comments caused alarm among many LGBTI rights advocates, who worried Poland could end up mirroring anti-LGBTI laws which have been introduced in Russia.

Heavily Catholic 

Poland has seen a gradual improvement of LGBTI rights in recent years, such as making progress towards banning conversion therapy,

However, a number of systemic and cultural problems still exist for the LGBTI community.

Same-sex marriages are not allowed and homosexual partnerships are not recognized in the country, where around 90% of the population identifies as Catholic.

A 2017 survey by the Centre for Public Opinion Research found that that while over half of Poles said they would tolerate LGBTI lifestyles, but do not think they are normal.

The same survey found that a quarter of Poles believe that homosexuality should not be tolerated at all.

There is also no formal sex education in Polish schools, with teaching instead focussed on preparing students for ‘family life’.

In 2018, ILGA-Europe ranked Poland at 38 out of the 49 countries polled in an annual review of human rights for LGBTI people.

Author: Calum Stuart

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