Almost a month has passed since the first of four Polish regions repealed their infamous ‘LGBT-free zone’ declarations. This came after the EU put on hold millions of euros of funding to the regions. Hailed as a ‘great success’ by activists, the tide may already be turning for Poland’s queer community. Warsaw is now considering a new law called ‘Stop LGBT’, which would see gay pride criminalised to stop so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’. With the safety of LGBTQ+ Poles being more uncertain than ever, Politika News spoke with the President of feminist organisation Gals4Gals and queer rights activist, Aleksandra Knapik-Gauza, to find out more.
How significant is the repealing of the ‘LGBT-free zone’ declarations in these provinces?
It’s very important, but it shows that the authorities of these regions are focused on EU money. They didn’t have any reflection about how degrading these declarations were for the LGBT+ community. It shows that they are only calculating money. It’s shameful, for example, that Lodzkie province didn’t repeal its own LGBT-free zone declaration. For them hatred is even more important than EU funds.
Do you think there will be a domino effect? Could other provinces repeal their ‘LGBT-free zone’ declarations?
I hope for it. However so far my home voivodeship [province], Lodzkie, hasn’t done it. They passed the LGBT-free zone in the softest version, however it still excludes all families beside mother+father+kids model.
Does Poland’s queer community now have more confidence in the EU’s capacity to protect their rights?
I guess yes, it’s always important to have international support. But our government is very EU-sceptical and disregards the EU. The only thing that they care about is EU funds, so this is the way to pressure the Polish government. Resolutions, though glorious, don’t bring much real results unfortunately.
With or without ‘LGBT-free zones’, Poland remains a challenging place for queer people to live in. What are the biggest obstacles facing the community today?
There are obvious obstacles like no marriage equality and no decent procedure of transition for transgender people. But also there is a lot of hate speech from the government and the Church, resulting in the harassment of LGBTQ+ people. The good thing is that public opinion, even in these hateful times, seems to be becoming more open. For example 56% of people are for partnerships, 21% are for marriage equality.
What needs to happen for the situation to dramatically improve?
Change of government in favour of progressive and pro-European forces. In my opinion the biggest opposition party – Civil Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) – is too conservative to change law for full marriage equality. They were promising partnerships many times and never fulfilled this promise when they were in power.
So I would think of Left Party winning the next elections – however this is only a dream, since Civil Platform and Poland2050 (also conservative, centrist party) have the biggest support on the opposition side. Left Party has a similar level of support as the neofascist Confederation Party.
A change of government would also have an impact on the situation for LGBTQ+ people because of the subsequent change of discourse towards acceptance, especially in the national media. Hopefully, changes in the education system could be made to introduce sexual education according to the World Health Organisation, not religion-derived.
Do you have hope that change will come?
I always have hope. But I am worried enough that it will not come to actually move to Sweden with my wife and our son. We are an LGBT family and we are afraid of what is happening in Poland on many levels, including no actions against climate change. But I wish Poland all the best and I will vote for progressive parties to change the political scene in my country.
Politika News would like to thank Aleksandra for her time.
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