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‘SORRY right-wing, LGBT ideology wins!’ we wrote back in October 2021, when we were analysing the results of a survey of support for civil partnerships and marriage equality. Since then, every successive survey has gone through the ceiling: more and more Poles are becoming accustomed to the topic of equality for non-heteronormative minorities. Therefore, some claim that the source of moral panic, which was homophobia for the populists until now, has simply dried up.

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Is the Polish public really that progressive? Or have old prejudices merely changed their stripes?

Trojan horse: ‘I tolerate them, but...’

In the latest Ipsos poll for OKO.press, we asked about views on homosexuality. The decided majority, 64% of respondents, stated that it is the same sexual orientation as others. This response is in line with the latest scientific knowledge.

One in five people considered homosexuality to be a disorder that can sometimes be cured. 7% of respondents were tied to the Catholic doctrine. They chose the response: it’s a sin, if someone has such inclinations they should not indulge in them. A further 9% of respondents had no opinion.

After the first question, we were able to conclude that one in four people in Poland have a problem with accepting homosexuality.

The situation becomes complicated when we ask a question about the declared attitude towards LGBT people. Instead of an abstract entity, we ask about specific people. In this case, just 13% of respondents expressed a lack of acceptance. And just 5% declared that they openly express homophobic views.

The group of people who declare acceptance is as high as 85%. Although 30% expressed a certain ‘but’. This applies to excessive flaunting of their sexuality or gender identity.

Such an attitude is considered a modern form of homophobia. This is because it requires LGBT people to participate in the life of society, but only on the terms that the heterosexual majority places on them. Such arguments are most often heard during parades and equality marches, which are a form of struggle for equality for LGBT people, as well as a moment of unfettered celebration of their difference. It also happens that public displays of affection or instances of coming out are considered excessive flaunting.

This means that LGBT people in Poland are accepted by 55% of respondents without any additional requirements. Among these, 15% declare that they try to react when harm (discrimination) comes to them.

Homophobia, as we know it, is becoming a thing of the past

What are the differences between the views and declarations of attitudes?

Among those who consider homosexuality a disorder, 18% said they unconditionally accept LGBT people. This would imply that their personal view does not translate into attitudes regarding minorities. The majority of declarations satisfy the definition of modern homophobia, namely I accept them, but I don’t like them flaunting themselves (there were 47% such responses). One in three respondents in this group expressed a lack of acceptance, with 13% saying they are hostile.

People who consider homosexuality to be a sin were more likely to declare that they do not accept LGBT people. This is as many as 43% of respondents in this group, but the majority of them try not to show this (30%).

Meanwhile, of those for whom homosexuality is an orientation like any other, 72% demonstrate full acceptance, while 24% have reservations about the visibility of LGBT people in public space and the public debate.

Some would consider the results of our survey contradictory, but this need not be the case at all. Some people in Poland are held hostage to their upbringing and politics. When asked about their views, they declare that they consider homosexuality to be a negative phenomenon, either in terms of social harm or in terms of moral values. However, few are prepared to admit that they do not accept LGBT people.

Awareness of what acceptance is may not be perfect among the Polish public, but open hostility is becoming a thing of the past – it is neither a reason to be proud, nor even a neutral phenomenon.

Gracious tolerance is a friend of vulgar homophobia?

‘The results of the polls confirm an opinion that is fairly widespread among LGBT+ organizations: the Polish public is becoming more accepting. This is happening despite, or perhaps as a response to the efforts of the Polish authorities, the public media and the leaders of the Catholic Church,’ Hubert Sobecki from the Love Does Not Exclude Association tells OKO.press.

He adds that there are simultaneously a very large number of people who declare an attitude of conditional acceptance, expressed with the slogan ‘I am tolerant, but...’. ‘Opposition politicians also seem to be following that voice’ believes Sobecki.

‘The consequences of such “gracious” tolerance, or in other words patiently tolerating the existence of LGBT+ people, are exactly the same as that of the more vulgar homophobia. After all, “we shall put up with you, but sit there quietly” means that we are not going to change family law, protect you from violence, or respect your gender identity. You are supposed to be pleased that we don’t verbally abuse you or beat you up anymore, well, unless you flaunt yourselves too much.’

It’s not bad, and it’s only going to get better

Age has a key influence on views and attitudes.

As many as 85% of 18–29 year-olds believe homosexuality is an orientation like any other.

General awareness of human sexuality and gender identity, greater freedom of discussion, and closeness of experience mean the young are resistant to the messages coming from the authorities and the Church.

As for updating knowledge, we can safely talk of a generational gap. As many as 27% of the 60+ group consider homosexuality a disorder and 8% consider it a sin.

It is worth noting that a huge percentage of declarations of twenty-year-olds are not only a lack of prejudice, but also a readiness to react when there is discrimination against LGBT people.

PiS messages tailored to the voters

If Jarosław Kaczyński’s message is to mobilize his current voters, then homophobia or transphobia are still paying off for him. 31% of the ruling party’s supporters consider homosexuality to be a disorder that can be cured. 16% see it more as a sin to which they must not succumb.

People for whom the question was either too difficult or does not interest them at all represent an exceptionally high percentage of this group. The response ‘I don’t know/I don’t have an opinion’ was chosen by 18% of PiS voters.

However, when we ask about people rather than concepts, the picture becomes more complicated. 67% of PiS voters say they accept LGBT people, but 40% of them would prefer them not to flaunt themselves so much.

Therefore, the messages from the authorities cannot be obviously vulgar or brutal, because PiS voters are not so keen to boast that they do not accept rainbow brothers and sisters. Instead, they find their place in the story from the election campaign told by President Andrzej Duda, who was doing the splits. Once saying that he does not oppose people, but the ideology. Another time, boasting that he once had neighbours, nice gentlemen who were gay, who lived quietly and did not bother anyone.

Of the Konfederacja [Confederation] voters, 41% of respondents consider homosexuality to be a disorder, slightly more – 49% – consider it to be a sexual orientation just like the others.

The Koalicja Obywatelska [Civic Coalition] and the Lewica [Left] party voters are the most friendly and convergent in their views with the state of scientific knowledge. Also, these two groups have a marginal attachment to the new version of homophobia.

Homosexuality, a threat to masculinity?

Significant differences can also be seen between men’s and women’s responses. Three quarters of Polish women consider homosexuality to be a sexual orientation like the others. Polish men are more divided: 24% selected the response of ‘disorder’, 8% chose ‘sin’.

There are twice as many men who declare that they do not accept LGBT people as women (18% to 9%). Likewise, there is also a larger group of Polish men who do not like the so-called ‘flaunting’.



Anton Ambroziak

Dziennikarz i reporter. Uhonorowany nagrodami: Amnesty International „Pióro Nadziei” (2018), Kampanii Przeciw Homofobii “Korony Równości” (2019). W OKO.press pisze o prawach człowieka, społeczeństwie obywatelskim i usługach publicznych.