Jewish community leaders in Warsaw on Tuesday voiced their opposition to the “dehumanizing” language they say is being used against LGBTQ (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer) people in Poland’s presidential election campaign.
Gay rights have been thrust into the spotlight during the campaign for the June 28 election. President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the right-wing ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), views what he calls LGBTQ “ideology” as an invasive foreign influence that harms traditional values in the devoutly Catholic nation.
“We have observed politicians… cynically undertake to foment hostility and hatred towards LGBT persons,” the Board of the Jewish Community of Warsaw wrote in a letter.
“We Jews – the descendants of Holocaust survivors – cannot and will not remain indifferent to words that would dehumanize LGBT persons,” the board wrote, saying that politicians had failed to learn the lessons of World War Two.
Duda has said he would ban teaching about LGBTQ issues in schools and labelled LGBTQ “ideology” more destructive than communism. He later said his words on LGBTQ and communism were taken out of context.
Duda’s main opponent is liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who has faced criticism for introducing education about LGBTQ matters in schools in the Polish capital.
Protestant bishop Jerzy Samiec tweeted on Sunday that LGBTQ people in his church were “Sisters and Brothers in Christ”. Poland’s influential Catholic Church has also referred to LGBTQ people as brothers and sisters, but has spoken out against “an ideology that aims to revolutionize social customs”.
On a visit to Warsaw on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said attempts by some Polish communities to introduce “LGBT-free zones” were incompatible with European values.
Duda’s campaign spokesman Adam Bielan told the Super Express tabloid on Tuesday that Duda was not homophobic.
“The president defends the rights of families to decide how their children are educated… Like the overwhelming majority of Poles he is against the adoption of children by homosexual couples,” Bielan said.
“I don’t think you could call those homophobic views”.