One of Poland’s ministers, Janusz Kowalski, has said that Poland should become an ‘LGBT free zone’. This news comes after the election of Andrzej Duda as President of Poland on 13th July after a campaign hinging on homophobic and right-wing policies.

A third of Poland have already declared themselves as “free from LGBT ideology”. The majority of these 80 regions are in the south-east of the country and this homophobic rhetoric has resulted in backlash from the EU and other European countries. The EU has announced that they will stop funding for these ‘LGBT free zones’. Helena Dalli, the EU’s Equality Commissioner, has said:

“EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities.

This is why 6 town twinning applications invilving [sic] Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected.’

Poland’s Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, retaliated to the EU’s decision saying that:

“We will not allow discrimination of Polish citizens and local governments by the European Union, the Union must respect the equality of all its citizens who have the right to form their opinions and beliefs freely.”

Other European countries, such as France, have cut ties with homophobic Polish towns and ended “official relations”. The council of Saint-Jean-de-Braye in France said in February:

“We cannot accept that the ties that unite our two cities through an oath of twinning should be tainted.”

However, not all countries have been so quick to condemn Duda and the homophobia in Poland. Boris Johnson congratulated Duda on his election and reiterated the ties between Poland and the UK in a tweet on 13th July:

“The UK and Poland have a long, shared history and friendship in Europe, NATO and elsewhere. I look forward to that continuing as we face the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

The President, Duda, has announced his plans to constitutionally ban same-sex couples from marrying and adopting children. He has in the past described the adoption of children by same-sex couples as “experimentation” and “enslavement”. Only 9% of Poles support same-sex couples adopting children and Duda used this statistic to his advantage throughout his campaign.

These latest comments from Kowalski are not unprecedented, they are the latest developments in an increasingly homophobic government and culture throughout Poland.

Duda only narrowly won the Polish election with 51.2% of the votes. His support mainly came from the older generations with the younger population voting for his opponent, Rafal Trzaskowski.

The rising anti-LGBT sentiment was sparked last year when Warsaw’s mayor, Trzaskowski, signed a city charter pledging support for the LGBT community. According to a Rainbow Europe ranking, Poland is currently the EU’s most homophobic country.

Phoebe Jowett Smith

Phoebe is a student at Jesus College, she studies Spanish and Arabic and is about to start her third year, after spending her second year living in the Middle East.