WARSAW, POLAND – In an open letter coordinated by the Embassy of Belgium, fifty ambassadors and representatives of international organizations in Poland have paid tribute to the “hard work” of LGBTI and other communities in Poland after the 2020 Warsaw Equality Parade was cancelled due to “epidemiological circumstances”.
Ambassadors from the United States, Germany, France, India, Italy and Japan are among the letter’s signatories alongside the ambassador of the Czech Republic, Ivan Jestřáb.
“We express our support for the efforts to raise public awareness of issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community and other communities in Poland facing similar challenges”, reads the letter which comes as the debate surrounding gay rights in Poland has escalated in recent months.
“We affirm the inherent dignity of each individual as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” it adds. “Respect for these fundamental rights obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities.”
“To this end, and in particular to shield communities in need of protection from verbal and physical abuse and hate speech, we need to jointly work on an environment of non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual acceptance,” concludes the letter published on the U.S. Embassy website.
Poland once again under fire
Poland has increasingly come under fire for not respecting the human rights of LGBTI people and President Andrzej Duda’s inflammatory remarks against LGBTI people ahead of his reelection provoked a renewed mobilisation of activists.
Last year, dozens of Polish cities, municipalities and provinces declared themselves “LGBT-free” after Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, expressed his public support to the LGBT community and layed out several measures to fight against discrimination – including a new sexual education program based on guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The declaration was the starting point of a nation-wide debate that turned LGBTI rights into a hot-button issue, with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and conservative and religious circles seizing the opportunity to launch an aggressive campaign against the LGBT community and portray it as the embodiment of Western liberal values it seeks to combat.
Party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski even described LGBT rights as “a foreign import” that threatens Polish traditional values, de-facto turning the issue into an important political battleground ahead of this year’s key European and national ballots.
The Polish government’s “misrepresentation” of LGBTI rights as a direct attack against family values and “sexualisation” of Poland’s youth was slammed by NGO’s and civil rights groups around the world.
Main photo credit: Roman Koziel – Radical Fokus