Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, has published a set of pledges to support Polish families if he wins a second term in elections later this month. Among his promises is to “defend children from LGBT ideology”.
While Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, from which Duda hails, led a vocal anti-LGBT campaign last year before European and parliamentary elections, Duda himself has so far largely avoided such language.
In fact, earlier this year, the president presented a more moderate tone, saying that he would be open to the idea of signing into law legislation introducing same-sex civil partnerships.
But last month, the main centrist opposition party, Civic Platform (PO), picked a new candidate for the presidential election. Their choice, Rafał Trzaskowski, has as mayor of Warsaw been a prominent supporter of LGBT rights.
Since Trzaskowski’s candidacy was announced, PiS has sought to present the election as “a choice between the white-and-red Poland represented by the current president and a rainbow Poland [of Trzaskowski]”.
Duda himself has now joined the fray, today publishing a set of campaign promises that he has called a “Family Charter” (contrasting to the “LGBT Charter” of policies that Trzaskowski signed when becoming mayor of Warsaw).
The president’s pledges including defending and expanding financial support for parents and seniors. This would entail maintaining existing programmes introduced by PiS, such as the popular “500+” child benefit scheme, as well as introducing new ones, such as subsidised holidays for families.
Duda also promises to ensure that families remain safe (from threats such as domestic violence and pornography) and that the labour market is more adapted to the needs of parents, including making it easier for women to return to work after maternity leave.
— #DUDA2020 (@AndrzejDuda2020) June 10, 2020
Two sections of the Family Charter relate to LGBT issues. One pledges to “defend the institution of marriage”, which Duda says must remain defined as a “relationship between a women and a man”.
The charter also says there can be “no consent for the adoption of children by homosexual couples”. At an event today in a playground to launch the charter, the president described such adoptions as part of a “foreign ideology”, reports TVP.
Another section is titled “defence of children from LGBT ideology”. It promises to “ban the propagation of LGBT ideology in public institutions” and to protect parents’ rights to decide on how their children are educated. In particular, it emphasises that “parents are responsible for sex education”.
. @wirtualnapolska: Sztab PAD przedstawia "Kartę Rodziny" – plan kampanii nastawiony na obronę tradycyjnego modelu rodziny, wsparcie finansowe, "ochronę dzieci przed ideologią LGBT" i stworzenie "rynku pracy przyjaznego rodzinie". #wybory2020 pic.twitter.com/qVdXCum0Kh
— Marcin Makowski (@makowski_m) June 10, 2020
Many self-proclaimed opponents of “LGBT ideology” in Poland are also against the expansion of sex education in schools (something Trzaskowski has sought to do in Warsaw). They argue that such classes are used by LGBT groups to “sexualise children” and even prepare them for abuse.
Last year, Jarosław Kaczyński – the PiS party chairman and Poland’s de facto leader – warned LGBT activists to keep their “hands off our children”.
“The sexualisation of children must be fought and defeated,” declared Kaczyński, referring to sex education programmes. “We must defend children, so that in Poland the normal family exists…[and] homosexual couples cannot experiment with children by adopting them.”
Kaczyński also warned that the “imported LGBT movement…threatens our identity, our nation, its continued existence, and therefore the Polish state”.
A large number of Polish local authorities, mostly under PiS control, have declared themselves “free from LGBT ideology”. Last week, the European Commision wrote to the heads of five Polish provinces requesting an explanation for such actions.
The situation has led Poland to now be ranked as the worst country for LGBT people in the European Union in an annual index published by ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based NGO.
Main image credit: Grzegorz Jakubowski/Prezydent.pl
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland and assistant professor of history at the Pedagogical University of Krakow. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, The Independent and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.