LGBT-free zone

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Map of Poland, LGBT-free zones declared (as of August 2019) on a voivodeship or powiat level marked in red. Poland LGBT zones July 2019 Counties and Provinces.png
Map of Poland, LGBT-free zones declared (as of August 2019) on a voivodeship or powiat level marked in red.

An LGBT-free zone (Polish : Strefa wolna od LGBT [5] ) is an act by a Polish municipality, [1] [6] powiat (county), [7] or voivodeship (province) [8] declaring their respective regions as free of "LGBT ideology". [9]

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish-language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

Powiat administrative division of Poland

A powiat is the second-level unit of local government and administration in Poland, equivalent to a county, district or prefecture in other countries. The term "powiat" is most often translated into English as "county" or "district".

Voivodeship Administrative division based on the region administered by a voivode

A voivodeship is the area administered by a voivode (Governor) in several countries of central and eastern Europe. Voivodeships have existed since medieval times in Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia and Serbia. The area of extent of voivodeship resembles that of a duchy in western medieval states, much as the title of voivode was equivalent to that of a duke. Other roughly equivalent titles and areas in medieval Eastern Europe included ban and banate.

Contents

While unenforceable and considered primarily symbolic, activists say the declared zones represent an attempt to stigmatize and exclude members of the LGBT community. [6] [8] As of August 2019, around 30 different LGBT-free zone declarations have been made in Poland, including four voivodeships in the south-east of the country: [1] [2] [4] [7] Lesser Poland, Podkarpackie, Świętokrzyskie, and Lublin. [2]

Lesser Poland Voivodeship Voivodeship in Poland

Lesser Poland Voivodeship or Lesser Poland Province, also known as Małopolska Voivodeship or Małopolska Province, is a voivodeship (province), in southern Poland. It has an area of 15,108 square kilometres (5,833 sq mi), and a population of 3,267,731 (2006).

Podkarpackie Voivodeship Voivodeship in Poland

Podkarpackie Voivodeship or Podkarpackie Province, also known as Subcarpathian Voivodeship or Subcarpathia Province, is a voivodeship, or province, in extreme-southeastern Poland. Its administrative capital and largest city is Rzeszów. Along with the Marshall, it is governed by the Subcarpathian Regional Assembly. Historically, most of the province's territory was part of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and the Ruthenian Voivodeship. In the interwar period, it was part of the Lwów Voivodeship.

Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship Voivodeship in Poland

Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Świętokrzyskie Province, or Holy Cross Province is one of the 16 voivodeships (provinces) into which Poland is divided. It is situated in southeastern Poland, in the historical province of Lesser Poland, and takes its name from the Świętokrzyskie mountain range. Its capital and largest city is Kielce.

Background

August 2019 protest in support of Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski's statements on LGBT. Sign reads: "away ([down]) with leftist totalitarian ideology", precz (throw away) is also on the crossed-out gay pride flag 02019 0075 (2) Rechte Demo der Unterstutzung fur die homophobe Predigt von Erzbischof Marek Jedraszewski.jpg
August 2019 protest in support of Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski's statements on LGBT. Sign reads: "away ([down]) with leftist totalitarian ideology", precz (throw away) is also on the crossed-out gay pride flag

In February 2019, Warsaw's liberal mayor Rafał Trzaskowski signed a declaration supporting LGBTQ rights [8] [10] and announced his intention to follow World Health Organization guidelines and integrate LGBT issues into the Warsaw school sex education curricula. [8] PiS politicians objected to the sex education program saying it would sexualize children. [11] PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński responded to the declaration, calling LGBT rights "an import" that threatened Poland. [12] The declaration "enraged and galvanized" conservative politicians and conservative media in Poland, according to The Daily Telegraph . [8] The LGBT-free zone declarations are considered to be a reaction to the Warsaw declaration. [8] [13]

Rafał Trzaskowski Polish politician

Rafał Trzaskowski is a Polish politician and the current Mayor of Warsaw. He is also a political scientist specializing in European studies. He served as a Member of the European Parliament (2009-2014), Minister of Administration and Digitization (2013-2014) as well as the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (2014-2015). He was elected a Member of the Polish Parliament in 2015. In the 2018 Polish local elections he was elected Mayor of Warsaw.

World Health Organization Specialized agency of the United Nations

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organization, was an agency of the League of Nations.

Law and Justice Polish political party

Law and Justice is a national-conservative, Christian democratic and right-wing populist political party in Poland that is composed with right-wing to far-right members. With 221 seats in the Sejm and 66 in the Senate, it is currently the largest party in the Polish parliament.

Pride marcher in Czestochowa holding the Rainbow Madonna, a depiction of Black Madonna of Czestochowa with the halo replaced by rainbow colors. In May 2019, civil-rights activist Elzbieta Podlesna was arrested for the charge of offending religious sentiment in relation to distribution of such posters. 02019 0471 Equality March 2019 in Czestochowa cropped.jpg
Pride marcher in Częstochowa holding the Rainbow Madonna, a depiction of Black Madonna of Częstochowa with the halo replaced by rainbow colors. In May 2019, civil-rights activist Elżbieta Podleśna was arrested for the charge of offending religious sentiment in relation to distribution of such posters.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the conservative establishment is fearful of a liberal transition that may erode the power of the Catholic Church in Poland in a manner similar to the transition around the Irish Church. [8] Decreasing Church attendance, rising secularization, and sexual abuse scandals have put pressure on the conservative position. [8] In May 2019, Polish police arrested civil-rights activist Elżbieta Podleśna for putting up posters of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa with the halo painted rainbow colors for the charge of offending religious sentiment, which is illegal in Poland. [14] [15] Also in May, two weeks prior to the 2019 European Parliament election, a documentary on child sex abuse in the Church, was released online. [14] The documentary was expected to hurt the Church-aligned PiS electorally, which led PiS leader Kaczyński to speak heatedly of the Polish nation and children as being under attack by deviant foreign ideas, which led conservative voters to rally around PiS. [14] According to feminist scholar Agnieszka Graff, "The attack on LGBT was triggered by the [Warsaw] Declaration, but that was just a welcome excuse", as PiS sought to woo the rural-traditional demographic and needed a scapegoat to replace migrants. [14]

<i>The Daily Telegraph</i> British daily broadsheet newspaper

The Daily Telegraph, known online as The Telegraph, is a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed across the United Kingdom and internationally. It was founded by Arthur B. Sleigh in 1855 as Daily Telegraph & Courier.

Catholic Church in Poland

There are 41 Catholic dioceses of the Latin Church and two eparchies of the Eastern Churches in Poland. These comprise about 10,000 parishes and religious orders. There are 33 million Catholics. The primate of the Church is Wojciech Polak, Archbishop of Gniezno. According to 2014 statistical yearbook, 85.8% of Poland's population is Catholic.

Catholic Church in Ireland Roman Catholic Church on the island of Ireland, including Northern Ireland

The Catholic Church in Ireland is part of the worldwide Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See. With 3.7 million members, it is the largest Christian church in Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland's 2016 census, 78% of the population identified as Catholic, which represents a decrease of 6% from 2011. By contrast, 45% of Northern Ireland identified as Catholic at the 2011 census, a percentage that is expected to increase in the coming years. The Primate of All Ireland is the Archbishop of Armagh. The church is administered on an all-Ireland basis. The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference is a consultative body for ordinaries in Ireland.

In August 2019, the Archbishop of Kraków Marek Jędraszewski said LGBT people were like a "rainbow plague" in a sermon commemorating the Warsaw uprising. [16] [17] [18] Not long after, a drag queen simulated his murder on stage. [19]

Archbishop of Kraków

The Archbishop of Kraków is the head of the archdiocese of Kraków. A bishop of Kraków first came into existence when the diocese was created in 1000; it was promoted to an archdiocese on 28 October 1925. Due to Kraków's role as Poland's political, cultural and spiritual center, the bishops and archbishops of Kraków were often very influential in the city, country and abroad. From 1443 to 1791, bishops of Kraków were simultaneously Dukes of Siewierz, although it was only Adam Stefan Sapieha who officially abandoned the title.

Marek Jędraszewski Polish priest

Marek Jędraszewski is a Polish Roman Catholic prelate who has been Archbishop of Kraków since 8 December 2016. He served as the Archbishop of Łódź from 2012 to 2017. He has also been Vice-President of the Polish Episcopal Conference since 2014.

As of 2019, being openly gay in Poland's small towns and rural areas "[takes] increasing physical and mental fortitude" due to the efforts of Polish authorities and the Catholic Church, according to The Telegraph. [8] Public perceptions, however, have been becoming more tolerant of gays. [8] [11] In 2001, 41 percent of Poles surveyed stated that "being gay wasn’t normal and shouldn’t be tolerated" whereas 24 percent said so in 2017, 5 percent said "being gay was normal" in 2001 while 16 percent said so in 2017. [11]

Throughout history, rural spaces have held multiple meanings and served various functions for queer individuals and communities, ranging from sites for political organizing or sanctuary to sites of repression and violence for LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Declarations

LGBT-free zone motions are made by Polish municipalities, [1] [6] powiats (counties), [7] and voivodeships (provinces) [8] who declare the regions under their control as free of "LGBT ideology" [9] in reaction to the declaration. [13] While unenforceable, activists say the declared zones represent attempts to exclude the LGBT community. [6] [8] Activist Olga Kaczorek called the declarations "a statement saying that a specific kind of people is not welcome there." [6]

In March 2019, the town of Świdnik in eastern Poland passed a resolution rejecting "LGBT ideology". [11]

As of August 2019, around 30 different LGBT-free zones have been declared in Poland, including four voivodeships in the south-east of the country: [1] [2] [4] [7] Lesser Poland, Podkarpackie, Świętokrzyskie, and Lublin. [2] The four Voivodeships form the "historically conservative" part of Poland. [6]

Powiats adopting such measures include: Białystok County, Jarosław County, Lesko County, Lubaczów County, Mielec County, Puławy County, Ryki County, Świdnik County, Tarnów County, and Zamość County. [3]

Law and Justice party

Ahead of the 2015 Polish parliamentary election, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party took an anti-migrant stance. [1] With migration slowing significantly, [6] in the run-up to the 2019 Polish parliamentary election the party has focused on countering Western "LGBT ideology". [1] PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński labelled migrants as "parasites and protozoa" in 2015, while in 2019 he rebuked the Warsaw mayor's pro-LGBTQ declaration as "an attack on the family and children" and stated that LGBTQ was an "imported" ideology. [8]

After Archbishop Jędraszewski made his speech calling "LGBT ideology" a "rainbow plague", the Polish minister for aid defended the comments. [17]

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro ordered an investigation of Ikea after it fired an employee who expressed homophobic sentiments, which according to TheWashington Post, "[kept] the conflict in the news". [1] [16]

Stickers

LGBT-free zone stickers distributed by the Gazeta Polska newspaper 02019 1570 LGBT free zone, cursed rainbow, Gazeta Polska stickers.jpg
LGBT-free zone stickers distributed by the Gazeta Polska newspaper

The conservative Gazeta Polska newspaper issued "LGBT-free zone" stickers to readers. [20] The Polish opposition and diplomats, including US ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, condemned the stickers. [9] [21] Gazeta editor in chief Tomasz Sakiewicz replied to the criticism with: "what is happening is the best evidence that LGBT is a totalitarian ideology". [21]

The Warsaw district court ordered that distribution of the stickers should halt pending the resolution of a court case. [22] However Gazeta's editor dismissed the ruling saying it was "fake news" and censorship, and that the paper would continue distributing the stickers. [23] Gazeta continued distribution of the stickers, but modified the decal to read "LGBT Ideology-Free Zone". [22]

In July Polish media chain Empik, the country's largest, refused to stock Gazeta Polska after it issued the stickers. [18] In August 2019, a show organized by the Gazeta Polska Community of America scheduled for October 24 in Carnegie Hall in New York was cancelled after complaints of anti-LGBT ties led to artists pulling out of the show. [24] [25]

Demonstrations

Nationalists counter-protesting June 2019 Rzeszow pride parade 02019 1209 (2) Neo-Nazis attack an LGBT rigths pride parade in Rzeszow.jpg
Nationalists counter-protesting June 2019 Rzeszów pride parade
June 2019 Rzeszow pride parade 02019 0895 Rzeszow Pride.jpg
June 2019 Rzeszów pride parade

In Rzeszów, after LGBT activists submitted a request to hold a pride march, PiS councilors drafted a resolution to make Rzeszów an LGBT-free zone as well as outlaw the event itself. [14] Some 29 requests for counter-demonstrations reached city hall, which led mayor Tadeusz Ferenc, of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance, to ban the march due to security concerns. [14] The ban was then overturned by a court ruling. [14] PiS councilors put forward a resolution outlawing "LGBT ideology", which was defeated by two votes. [14]

Following the violent events in the first Białystok equality march [6] [26] and the Gazeta Polska stickers a demonstration for tolerance was held in Gdańsk [27] on 23 July 2019, with the slogan "zone free of zones" (Polish : Strefa wolna od stref). [28] [29] [30] In Szczecin a demonstration under the slogan of "hate-free zone" (Polish : Strefa wolna od nienawiści) took place, [30] [31] and in Łódź left-wing politicians handed out "hate-free zone" stickers. [30] [32]

Reactions

Synagogue in Bydgoszcz, German-occupied Poland, 1939. Nazi banner proclaiming city is judenfrei (free of Jews). This image was tweeted by a representative of Robert Biedron's party in response to the LGBT-free zones. Judenfrei Bydgoszcz synagoga.jpg
Synagogue in Bydgoszcz, German-occupied Poland, 1939. Nazi banner proclaiming city is judenfrei (free of Jews). This image was tweeted by a representative of Robert Biedroń's party in response to the LGBT-free zones.

Support for declarations

Bożena Bieryło, a PiS councilwoman in Białystok County, said the legislation in Białystok county was required due to LGBT "provocations" and "demands" for sex education instruction. [9]

The national PiS party has encouraged the local declarations, with a PiS official handing out medals in Lublin to local politicians who supported the declarations. [1]

Criticism of declarations

In July 2019, Polish Ombudsman Adam Bodnar stated that "the government is increasing homophobic sentiments" with remarks "on the margins of hate speech". [1] Bodnar said he is preparing an appeal to the administrative court against the declarations, as according to Bodnar they are not only political but also have a normative character that affects the lives of people in the declared region. [7] [35]

In July 2019, Warsaw city Councillor Marek Szolc and the Polish Society for Anti-Discrimination Law  [ pl ] (PTPA) released a legal opinion stating that LGBT-free zone declarations stigmatize and exclude people and are illegal as they violate article 32 of the Constitution of Poland which guarantees equality and lack of discrimination. [13] [36] [37]

In August 2019, multiple LGBT community members have stated that they feel unsafe in Poland. [17]

The Razem party stated: "Remember how the right [were scared] of the so-called [Muslim] no-go zones? Thanks to the same right, we have our own no-go zones." [38] [39]

Liberal politicians and media and human rights activists have compared the declarations to Nazi-era declarations of areas being judenfrei (free of Jews). Left-leaning Italian newspaper la Repubblica called it "a concept that evokes the term 'Judenfrei'". [40] [41] Campaign Against Homophobia director Slava Melnyk compared the declarations to "1933, when there were also free zones from a specific group of people." [42] Warsaw's deputy president Paweł Rabiej tweeted, "The German fascists created zones free of Jews. Apartheid, of blacks." [20] [34]

See also

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References

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  37. "Ustawy regionów "wolnych od LGBT" są niezgodne z prawem" [The laws of "LGBT free" regions are unlawful]. Queer.pl (in Polish). 22 July 2019.
  38. "Polish newspaper is handing out 'LGBT-free zone' stickers". Gay Star News. 18 July 2019.
  39. ""Gazeta Polska" drukuje naklejki "Strefa wolna od LGBT". Czy ktoś w redakcji słyszał o nazistach?" ["Gazeta Polska" prints "LGBT free zone" stickers. Has anyone in the editorial heard about the Nazis?]. Gazeta.pl (in Polish). 17 July 2019.
  40. "Polonia, botte e insulti al gay-pride di Bialystok" [Poland, beatings and insults to the gay pride of Bialystok]. la Repubblica (in Italian). 21 July 2019.
  41. "RPO o „Strefie wolnej od LGBT": Polsce grozi dyskryminacja na rynku usług" [RPO on the "LGBT Free Zone": Poland is facing discrimination in the services market]. Rzeczpospolita (in Polish). 5 August 2019.
  42. Łucyan, Magda (19 July 2019). "Naklejki "Strefa wolna od LGBT". Komentarz ambasador i odpowiedź rządu" [Newspaper promotes stickers with the words "LGBT free zone": US ambassador "disappointed and worried"]. TVN24 (in Polish).