Inside Poland’s ‘LGBT-free zones’

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09/20/2020

In Poland, dozens of small towns have declared themselves free of “LGBT ideology”. Politicians’ hostility to gay rights has become a flashpoint, pitting the religious right against more liberal-minded Poles. And gay people living in these areas are faced with a choice: emigrate, keep their heads down – or fight back. Magazine editor Tomasz Sakiewicz shows me into his Warsaw office. To my surprise, he takes my hand – which I’ve just rubbed with the regulation disinfectant gel – and kisses it like an 18th-Century Polish nobleman. Then he passes me a sticker that came free with his magazine, the right-wing weekly Gazeta Polska. It shows a rainbow flag with a black cross through it. “We gave out 70,000 of these,” says Sakiewicz. “And people congratulated us because we Poles love freedom.” Some 100 towns and regions across Poland, nearly a third of the country, have passed resolutions declaring themselves free of “LGBT ideology”. These resolutions are essentially symbolic and unenforceable but they have provided fresh ammunition in Poland’s increasingly bitter culture war.

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