How LGBT rights became a key battleground in Poland’s election

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09/26/2019

Picking a vulnerable group of people, demonising them and convincing your voters that you will protect them from the threat the group allegedly poses has long been a proven strategy for electoral success. This, at least, seems to be the golden rule for the currently in power conservative and populist Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland. Ahead of the 2015 parliamentary elections, PiS – then in opposition – focused on refugees. At a time when thousands of people were dying in the Mediterranean Sea and European Union members were trying to respond with a common policy, the party leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, was citing alleged diseases and parasites that Middle Eastern refugees could bring to Poland. Four years later, in the run-up to the parliamentary elections scheduled for 13 October this year, Law and Justice are employing similar tactics with respect to LGBT rights. Even though LGBT issues were previously not high on the party’s agenda, PiS has a long-standing record of anti-LGBT discrimination. One of the recent key turning points has been the rise of a transnational movement against the so-called ‘gender ideology’, a flexible term, which in Poland is most often associated with such issues as abortion rights, sex education, reproductive technologies as well as feminist and LGBT activism. In January 2014, a number of conservative politicians established a parliamentary group ‘Stop Gender Ideology’, with the main aim being to defend ‘traditional family’ and children.

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