Poland passes its own hateful ‘LGBT+ propaganda’ ban: ‘Children will be punished for tolerance’

Polish president Andrzej Duda

A “disastrous” bill that will “punish” LGBT+ youth by curbing access to teaching on queer issues has been passed by Poland’s lower house of parliament.

In yet another attempt by the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) to stoke hostility against LGBT+ people, lawmakers rammed a bill through the Sejm, the lower house, that increases the government’s control over schools on Wednesday (9 February).

Rallying around calls to “protect children,” PiS MPs unexpectedly sprung the vote for the law more than a week earlier than scheduled in a wily manoeuvre slammed by the opposition.

While the Senate had previously rejected the law, the Sejm voted to override the opposition-led upper house’s veto altogether, with 233 voting to do so. 220 voted against and two abstained, Openly reported.

PiS MPs broke out into rapturous applause when the legislation was passed – it will now be sent to the desk of president Andrzej Duda, a toadying ally of the PiS party, for his signature.

‘Inequality and exclusion’ will increase as Poland passes own ‘LGBT+ propaganda’ ban

Activists told PinkNews that the spine-chilling legislation, dubbed by critics as “Lex Czarnek” after the unpopular education minister Przemysław Czarnek, will introduce a culture of “control and fear” in schools.

The bill will introduce government-approved whips responsible for keeping schools in check. They will have power over hiring and firing headteachers as well as keeping outside groups from operating in schools.

Educators and principals will have to get teaching plans approved by the supervisors no later than two months before classes start.

If found to not be in line with strict government values, the whip has the power to swiftly fire the school’s leadership without notice and with no room for appeal.

Extracurricular activities run by non-governmental groups will soon be required to be first approved by ministers, giving them greater control over school life. Parental permission is still required for even government-approved classes.

Teaching unions and NGOs have warned that the legislation amounts to censorship, allowing the government to stop teaching on LGBT+ and reproductive rights.

Przemyslaw Czarnek during the 48th session of the Sejm (lower house) in Warsaw, Poland, on 9 February 2022 (Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“We have no doubts that Lex Czarnek is a disaster for schools in Poland,” Justyna Nakielska, advocacy officer for LGBT+ rights group Kampania Przeciw Homofobii, told PinkNews.

“Young people will be punished for tolerance, openness to diversity, critical thinking and independence. Czarnek introduces an atmosphere of denunciation, control and fear in schools.”

To Nakielska, it’s not hard to guess that the law will be wielded like a club by the government to force schools or outside organisations teaching LGBT+ rights to back down – and it’s the children that will pay the price for this, she added.

“LGBT youth will feel less and less safe in schools,” she said, citing a 2020 report from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency that four in 10 queer youth in Poland hide their identities at school.

Only 18 per cent of them believe that the school is shifting topics related to the LGBT community in a positive or balanced way.

“Inequality and exclusion,” Nakielska said, “will increase and there will be less and less room for LGBT youth.”