Europe

Hateful anti-LGBT+ bill that could devastate a generation lands in Poland’s parliament

Lily Wakefield January 12, 2022
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LGBT+ protesters in Warsaw, Poland

Protesters hold rainbow flags outside the Ministry of National Education in Warsaw, calling for the resignation of Przemyslaw Czarnek. (LightRocket via Getty/ Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images)

Poland could be on the verge of voting in a devastating “LGBT+ propaganda” law similar to those seen in Hungary and Russia.

On Wednesday (12 January), the lower house of Poland’s parliament, the Sejm, will debate a bill described as “a power grab of the Polish education system”.

The education reform is dubbed “Lex Czarnek”, or “Czarnek’s Law”, after minister of education Przemysław Czarnek, who thinks LGBT+ people “aren’t equal to normal people” and has compared the queer community to Nazis.

It would give the government excessive control through school superintendents, Polish government officials which oversee several schools each.

If Lex Czarnek is adopted, superintendents will have the power to veto any teaching materials provided by charities or outside organisations, and will be able to dismiss headteachers without notice if they do not comply.

Rémy Bonny, executive director of pan-EU LGBT+ rights organisation Forbidden Colours, told PinkNews that this “power grab” means teachers and schools will not longer be able to help LGBT+ pupils”.

“The bill is the light version of Russia’s and Hungary’s anti-LGBTIQ+ propaganda law,” he said, noting that Czarnek was influenced by Hungary’s “anti-propaganda” bill.

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s largest independent newspaper, reported: “When students want to organise another ‘Rainbow Friday’, the headteacher will not agree.

“They won’t allow an LGBT+ organisation to come to the school with a lecture on equality. And they won’t send a teacher on an equality education course. Because they won’t want to lose their job.”

Education minister Czarnek ‘is a hateful homophobe who wants to destroy Polish education’

According to OKO Press, last month a public hearing in the Sejm was organised by four Polish opposition parties to discuss the bill.

During the hearing, recent high school graduate Anna Maziarska took the floor.

She said: “For as long as I can remember, I have been living in the EU and, as I want to believe, I live in a free state. Dad told me about control, intimidation and central management in the 1980s.

“I’m already in college myself, but I’m worried about my little sister and the people who will go to school. We deserve free and independent education.

“As a person who is a non-heteronormative woman and lives in Poland… I do not think that minister Czarnek represents us. He is a misogynist, homophobic and hateful person who wants to destroy Polish education.”

Protesters call for the resignation of education minister Przemyslaw Czarnek, in Warsaw, Poland
Protesters call for the resignation of education minister Przemyslaw Czarnek, in Warsaw, Poland. (LightRocket via Getty/ Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images)

In November, 2021, the Polish council of ministers approved Lex Czarnek, and the Sejm’s education committee has also adopted the law.

A vote in the Sejm is expected Thursday (13 January). If the bill is passed, it will go to the Senate, which is likely to reject it. If this happened, the decision would then lie with Poland’s anti-LGBT+ president Andzej Duda.

Poland’s LGBT+ community is in crisis under far-right president Andrzej Duda

Since Poland’s far-right, anti-LGBT+ president Andrzej Duda assumed office in 2015, the country’s queer community has continued to suffer. He was re-elected as president in 2020 following a campaign in which he vowed to “prohibit the propagation” of “LGBT+ ideology” in public institutions.

His Law and Justice party (PiS), has relentlessly targeted LGBT+ rights, including in education – the party previously condemned plans to teach a World Health Organisation-approved sex education program which was inclusive of LGBT+ identities, calling it “an infringement of traditional Catholic values”.

Under Duda’s leadership, more than 100 municipalities, counties and provinces have declared themselves “free” from “LGBT+ ideology” since 2019, and the LGBT+ community is currently battling a bill intended to ban Pride parades, and stop the “promotion” of queer lives.

But Forbidden Colours director Rémy Bonny insists that change is possible with support from politicians both in the EU and around the world.

He said: “In September, after threats by the European Commission to take away funding, four out five provinces that declared themselves ‘LGBT+ free zones’ withdrew their anti-LGBT+ resolutions… International pressure on Poland works.”

 

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