Poland: Donald Tusk promises new laws for ‘victimised’ LGBTQ+ community

Simpler gender recognition and same-sex partnership rights promised by Leader of the Opposition in Poland

Polish opposition leader Donald Tusk has promised that if his centrist party is elected, he will introduce a number of measures to improves the lives of the country’s LGBTQ+ community.

During a meeting in the northwest town of Pia, Tusk said that his party has two bills prepared that would benefit LGBTQ+ Poles – one to make it easier for trans people in Poland to self-identify and a second to legally recognise same-sex civil partnerships.

The Civic Platform (PO) leader’s declaration came after a secondary school senior asked the opposition leader: “What future do you intend to build with your party and coalition partners for people who identify with the acronym LGBT?” The student added that Poland’s current government “dehumanises these people“.

The national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is currently in power, has waged a harsh campaign against the LGBTQ+ community and so-called “LGBT ideology” in recent years.

Since 2019, almost 100 municipal or local governments in Poland have declared themselves “free of LGBT ideology”. At one point, so-called “LGBT-free” zones covered almost a third of the country.

As a result, Poland has been named the worst EU nation for LGBTQ people to live in for the past four years in a row.

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In response to the student’s question, Tusk said the query was “one of the most dramatic” inquiries he frequently hears from young people, before calling LGBTQ+ people in Poland a “victimised minority”.

“The most important thing is to rebuild the language of respect,” Tusk continued. “Love is worthy of our respect.”

The bills Tusk outlines will “significantly simplify the current very complicated and humiliating, ghastly court procedures” for trans people, allowing them to legally change their gender markers more easily.

The existing ad-hoc system requires trans people to sue their own parents in order to change their legally-acknowledged gender because there is no legislation outlining a precise road for gender recognition.

When Tusk’s PO party was in power in 2015, Poland’s parliament approved a bill to establish a legal process for gender recognition. It was vetoed by conservative president Andrzej Duda, a PiS supporter.

Tusk confirmed that he would also introduce legally-acknowledged civil partnerships for same-sex couples, stating: “I always try to be careful because I want to actually improve reality,” before adding that the potential for civil partnerships would give same-sex couples significant legal protections.

Tusk admitted that this policy “won’t satisfy everyone”, referring to the demand for marriage equality.

“I really want to finally take this step and not spend another 20 years protesting in the streets,” he said.