How Poland’s attacks on LGBT rights strengthened the Polish LGBT movement

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04/26/2019

In late February, the mayor of Warsaw issued a declaration combating discrimination against LGBT people by providing better sex education in schools and creating a city shelter for LGBT individuals kicked out by their families. This brought a furious backlash from Poland’s governing populist Law and Justice party and other social conservatives ranging from soccer fans to Church representatives. These measures had an unexpected consequence. Poland’s LGBT movement became one of the best organized in post-communist Europe. To understand how backlash helped build up Poland’s LGBT rights movement, we need to begin with communism’s legacy regarding homosexuality. Across the Eastern bloc Communist authorities treated homosexuality, at best, as a kind of social disorder and, at worst, as a criminal offense. This stigmatization made homosexuality invisible, allowing negative stereotypes to thrive.

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