Polish president calls homophobia criticism ‘fake news’ after literally vowing to devastate LGBT+ rights

Polish President Andrzej Duda

President of Poland Andrzej Duda has accused the media of spreading “fake news” about his homophobic views, just days after he signed a sweeping anti-LGBT pledge.

With less than three weeks to go until the June 28 presidential election, the right-wing nationalist leader has sought to bolster support for his campaign by attacking same-sex marriage, adoption and gay “ideology”.

In a “family charter” published last week, Duda pledged to “prohibit the propagation of this ideology” in public institutions and “defend the institution of marriage” as defined as a “relationship between a women and a man”.

The president also said that there would be “no permission for adoption of children by homosexual couples”.

But Duda is now attacking the media for reporting his views, posting a an English-language Twitter thread on Sunday (June 14) blasting outlets for what he claims is “fake news”.

Poland president claims he believes in ‘tolerance’, in departure from objective reality

He raged: “Yet again, as part of dirty political fight, my words are put out of context. I truly believe in diversity and equality.

“At the same time beliefs of any minority cannot be imposed on a majority under the false pretence of tolerance.

“In our times truth has become a scared little creature that hides from much stronger correctness.

“I believe in the world, where truths, such as MeToo, can have a safe platform. Where we can speak our mind, where words are not twisted. I believe in tolerance to any views, so please stop distributing fake news.”

Notably, a few minutes before sending the messages to media outlets in English, Duda posted a message in Polish reaffirming his belief in the “constitutional values” of marriage “as a relationship between a woman and a man” and in “the right of parents to raise children according to their beliefs”.

The bizarre suggestion that Duda believes in “tolerance” towards gay people comes the same week that he described LGBT+ rights as “a foreign ideology that we won’t allow to be introduced into our country” and claimed that homosexuality is “even more destructive to the human being” than communism.

President of Poland Andrzej Duda

Polish President Andrzej Duda (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Andrzej Duda has resorted to homophobia on the campaign trail

In a campaign speech on Saturday (June 13), Duda likened gay rights to the distribution of propaganda under the country’s former pro-Soviet regime, saying: “That was Bolshevism. It was the ideologizing of children.

“Today, there are also attempts to push an ideology on us and our children, but different. It’s totally new, but it is also neo-Bolshevism.”

“We have our tradition. We have our culture that is based on over 1,050 years of history.

He continued: “We won’t allow [Poland] to be taken away from us. We won’t let any ideology, neither communist, nor socialist, nor any other take it away from us, because this is our identity.

“And let no one try to lead our children on the wrong path because we won’t allow it.”

The key challenger to Duda in the election, mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski, is a supporter of LGBT+ rights — with critics suggesting that the president is simply trying to ride back into power on the coat tails of a culture war.

Opinion polling has suggested that support for Duda’s once-certain re-election bid could be fading, with Duda and Trzaskowski separated by just two percentage points in the second round.

Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at Warsaw University, told Bloomberg that “turning gays into enemies can work in Duda’s favour” by inflaming his provincial, traditionalist base.

Andrzej Duda considers same-sex civil partnerships

President of Poland, Andrzej Duda. (Sean Gallup/Getty)

Similarly cynical tactics have been deployed in Russia, where allies of Vladimir Putin last week put out an ad aiming to stoke homophobic sentiment and manipulate voters ahead of a referendum that could give the leader another decade in power.

Taking aim at LGBT+ people is not a new tactic, with the ruling Law and Justice Party successfully converting homophobic sentiment into political capital before — contributing to a surge in public homophobia and nationalist rhetoric over the past few years.

As part of the politically-driven attack on LGBT+ people, nearly 100 Polish municipal or local governments have proclaimed themselves zones “free from LGBT+ ideology” and opposing gay “propaganda” — covering nearly a third of the country.

The European Parliament passed a resolution that strongly condemned the concept of LGBT-free zones in December, noting that they are “part of a broader context of attacks against the LGBT+ community in Poland, which include growing hate speech by public and elected officials and public media, as well as attacks and bans on Pride marches”.