Polish politician condemns Pride marches as election creeps nearer

The leader of Poland’s ruling party has announced that the “travelling theatre” of LGBT+ Pride marches must be “unmasked and discarded.”

Poland is preparing for a parliamentary election on October 13. The conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party has targeted the LGBT+ community as a key campaign issue, depicting them as undermining Catholic values.

At a party campaign rally on Sunday (August 18), PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński told voters: “The hard offensive, this travelling theatre that is showing up in different cities to provoke and then cry… we are the ones who are harmed by this, it must be unmasked and discarded.”

The law must be fully enforced to “regulate these matters”, he added, but did not elaborate further.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of PiS party, pictured in 2005 (Janek Skarzynski /AFP/Getty)

PiS maintains a close relationship with Poland’s influential Catholic church. The party is leading in opinion polls and is expected to win a fresh four-year mandate.

Political analysts reporting to Reuters say PiS’ open criticism of LGBT+ rights could be a strategy to rally its conservative rural base for the election.

In April, Kaczyński called the gay rights movement a “threat” to Polish identity and the state.

He said at a conference: “These ideologies, philosophies, all of this is imported, these are not internal Polish mechanisms. They are a threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state.”

Shortly afterwards at least 30 towns and villages pledged to go “LGBT free”, LGBT+ people were pelted with rocks at a Pride parade, and a conservative newspaper distributed “LGBT-free zone” stickers.

LGBT-free Zone stickers are distributed with the latest issue of Polish conservative weekly newspaper 'Gazeta Polska'. Krakow, Poland on 24 July, 2019.

LGBT-free Zone stickers distributed with the latest issue of Polish conservative weekly newspaper ‘Gazeta Polska’. Krakow, Poland on 24 July, 2019. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty)

The Polish LGBT+ community has united in defiance of the growing hate in the Eastern European country, with thousands joining the #JestemLGBT (I am LGBT) hashtag on Twitter to share support.

More than 140 LGBT+ celebrities and advocates contributed lip-synching videos to create a Polish version of Taylor Swift’s anti-homophobia anthem, “You Need To Calm Down.”