Not a day goes by in Poland without seeing a newspaper or magazine on the news-stands with a great cover title dedicated to homosexuality and LGBT rights, with the topic becoming extremely polarizing in recent months. “Homoterrorism”, “Soros attacks Poland” cry out some, while others respond: “Whoever is not supporting LGBT people is not a patriot”, “Whoever is silent is an accomplice”, in particular after the riots that accompanied a pro LGBT demonstration in the city of Bialystok, in the east of the country, a few weeks ago. The public discussion on the subject has assumed such harsh tones that it would be difficult to imagine anything of the sort in any other EU country.
The catalyst for this heated public debate was the signing, in February of this year, by the Mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski, of the so-called “LGBT+ Card”. In this document there was, among other things, a mention of the necessity to adopt, in public schools of the capital city, a sexual education curriculum matching the standards prescribed by the World Health Organization. The document caused a sensation in Poland, in particular due to the references to masturbation in childhood, implicit in the standards envisaged in the new canon of sex education. Since then the controversy has not subsided.
Politics is involved too, obviously, also in view of the October parliamentary elections, in two months. Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc, the “Law and Justice” has been in power since 2015 and is given at the moment as a favorite in the polls. It is a national-conservative party, strongly criticized in Europe, especially due to the reform of the constitutional court, for which Poland has also risked sanctions from the European Union. A party that however, judging by the enviable approval it enjoys (the latest survey gives it 43%), reflects the values of many in the Polish electorate. The opposition party Civic Platform, which governed between 2007 and 2015, has always declared a policy of total opposition to the government informally led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the PiS party but without an official post. As the Polish writer and publicist Rafal Ziemkiewicz writes: “The only message that the Civic Platform currently has to offer is: we are Europe, and they are backward petty bourgeois. And Europe is gay marriage, drag queens, gender studies, free abortion and defamation in the public discourse of the concepts of nationalism, Catholicism and other types of ‘hate speech’. It is the typical identification of the post-colonial elites, who feel a superiority complex towards us Catholic aboriginals, while suffering from their sense of inferiority towards the West”.
According to Gazeta Wyborcza instead, the liberal newspaper par excellence in Poland, Russia could be behind the animated exploitation of the LGBT issue. “Kaczynski at the Pis party convention in March spoke of the threat of child sexualization,” writes Wyborcza. “One of the most active websites in the promotion of the anti-LGBT initiative ‘Stop the sexualisation of children’ is registered on the same server as the right-wing magazine Option to the right, which always devotes great attention to Russia and promotes it as a country rebuilding its identity and defending traditional values, contrary to the West”.
Certainly a curious theory, considering that the PiS in general is a political force that is anything but friendly towards Russia. One of the party’s most vocal campaigns was the tragedy of the fall of the presidential plane in 2010, which occurred in Russia. The current leader of the PiS lost its twin brother, Lech Kaczynski, then president of the country. One of the first moves of the new government in 2015 was to reopen the investigation into the Smolensk tragedy and some implied that the catastrophe was not an accident but an act of international terrorism by Russia. Many in Poland will surely have their good reasons for not seeing Russia favorably, but this does not mean that all evils must necessarily come from there. And even the latest tense debate on the LGBT issue is no exception.