Polish Jews plead with politicians to learn from the horrors of the Holocaust and stop ‘dehumanising’ LGBT+ people

Gay men wearing pink triangle, representing Holocaust Memorial Day

Jewish leaders in Poland have spoken out about attempts to “dehumanise” and degrade the LGBT+ community in the country.

Poland has seen a surge in public homophobia and nationalist rhetoric over the past few years, with nearly 100 Polish municipal or local governments proclaiming themselves zones “free from LGBT+ ideology” amid the moral panic.

President of Poland Andrzej Duda has sought to capitalise on the issue amid a tough re-election battle this month, pledging to “prohibit the propagation of this ideology” in public institutions.

He has also vowed to outlaw adoption by same-sex couples, decrying “attempts to push an ideology on us and our children” and vowing: “We won’t allow [Poland] to be taken away from us.”

Jewish leaders: ‘Stirring up fear of minority groups inevitably leads to tragedies’

The “dehumanisation” of LGBT+ people has caused concern for Jewish community leaders in Warsaw, who drew a parallel with attempts to whip up antisemitic hatred prior to the Holocaust.

The letter reads: “We have observed politicians in the presidential election campaign currently under way In Poland cynically undertake to foment hostility and hatred towards LGBT+ persons.

“The statements and actions of representatives of the highest authorities of the Polish Republic are the more astonishing because they prove how little these politicians have learned from the history and the horrors of World War II.

“We Jews – the descendants of Holocaust survivors – cannot and will not remain indifferent to words that would dehumanise LGBT+ persons.

“We will not accede to hate speech, prejudice or aggression. We are aware that acts of taking away the dignity and humanity of a social group and of stirring up unwarranted dread of it among the rest of the society inevitably lead to tragedies and pogroms.”

Anti LGBT protesters seen during an anti-LGBT protest

Anti LGBT protesters seen during an anti-LGBT protest (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The letter adds: “It is our duty to manifest our solidarity with all victims of injustice, prejudice and violence. It is our right to say NO to all forms of discrimination of LGBT+ persons.

“We support sexual minorities and affirm their movement for equal treatment of all Polish citizens.”

President of Poland Andrzej Duda has made anti-LGBT+ hate a key plank of re-election bid.

The letter is yet to draw a response from president Duda – who has 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.

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.

The European Parliament passed a resolution last year expressing concern about the spread of anti-LGBT hatred in the country, warning of a “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”.