PRIME MINISTER Mateusz Morawiecki spoke to representatives of the energy sector, presented Poland’s plans for the construction of nuclear power plants, boasted about helping Ukraine and laid flowers by the John Paul II monument during his visit to Canada. A press conference with Canada’s PM, Justin Trudeau, was organized at the end of an intensive day. A question was asked about the LGBQ+ free zones in Poland.

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‘We have received some reports coming out of Poland around LGBT rights, around democracy. And we had a frank conversation, as must be the case, and we will continue to work together on a broad range of things. But we will be there to continue to stand up for the values that matter as well,’ replied Justin Trudeau. ‘I raised concerns about these LGBTQ+ free zones,’ he added.

How did Prime Minister Morawiecki reply?

As confirmation that everything is well with LGBTQ+ rights in Poland, the PM added: ‘The best proof of this is we do not have issues with the European Commission from this point of view.’ He added that, ‘if human rights were being breached in Poland, we would not receive EU funds.’

‘I can assure you that there are no problems whatsoever, and this is not an issue in Poland,’ declared Morawiecki.

A country that respects LGBTQ+ peoples’ rights

Single sex couples are refused the right to enter into marriage and adopt children in a country in which, according to the prime minister, ‘LGBTQ+ peoples’ rights are not jeopardized.’

Schools considered as being LGBT+ friendly are starting to be audited by the Children's Rights Ombudsman – who appears not to be concerned about any other matter as much as the examination of what this ‘friendliness’ of schools involves.

At official speeches, the chairman of the ruling party makes fun of ‘Valdimir, who wants to be Sophie’ and ironically says: ‘it’s now half past five, I was a man, but now I’m a woman.’

In a country which respects human rights so much, the police brutally stop a protest attended by people with rainbow flags. They use physical, psychological and sexual violence.

A police officer later testifies in court: ‘We received instructions to arrest everyone with LGBT colours. Regardless of how they behaved. We treated these instructions as an order that has to be carried out.’

We wrote about the case of the ‘Rainbow Night’ in OKO.Press.

In a country which the prime minister claims not to be homophobic, biphobic and transphobic at all, approx. 45% of transgender people think of committing suicide frequently or very frequently (data from the report entitled ‘Situation of LGBT+ people in Poland’ for 2019–2020).

Despite many years of efforts of social organizations, the process of the legal transition, namely changes of documents, is still complicated and very long. It requires a complicated diagnosis and the need to sue parents for ‘wrongly specifying the child’s gender at birth’.

In a country about which there is no need to worry, campaigns in support of LGBT+ actions and equality marches have been repeatedly prohibited or obstructed (e.g. in 2018 in Lublin) or are insufficiently protected (Białystok in 2019, where one of the participants said: ‘This was the first time I felt certain that someone could beat me up or even kill me (…) Very little protected us from them’).

40 municipalities and counties, one voivodship

And finally: in a country where the ‘people have no problems’, there are more than 40 municipalities and counties where either LGBT+ free zones or Local Government Family Rights Charters created by Ordo Iuris (this is a ‘lighter’ version of the resolutions on the LGBT-free zones, which refer, among other things, to the support of the family, understood as a union between a man and a woman) are still in force.

The matter of LGBT+ free zones is continuously being monitored by the Atlas of Hate initiative; the results of their work can be seen on the map:

Map of anti-LGBT zones. Places where the resolution has been rejected are marked in green, those where it is in force are marked in red. Places where there have been activities lobbying for the introduction of the zone are coloured yellow.

The only voivodship in which a homophobic resolution is still in force is Łódzkie (the voivodship adopted the Ordo Iuris charter). Previously, four other voivodships, Małopolskie, Lubelskie, Podkarpackie and Świętokrzyskie, had also introduced anti-LGBT zones or positions.

Christian traditions

An anti-LGBT declaration was adopted in the last of these voivodships in 2019. Two years later, in an interview with OKO.press, representatives of the Świętokrzyskie voivodship assembly maintained that they had never ‘passed a resolution that could be defined as an anti-LGBT declaration’.

However, this position states that the officials express their ‘profound disapproval and profound objection to the attempts of liberal political circles to promote an ideology based on an LGBT affirmation that is clearly contradictory to the cultural heritage and centuries-old Christian traditions not only of the Region of the Holy Cross, but also of Poland and Europe.’

In turn, the position of the Podkarpackie Voivodship states ‘The Podkarpackie Voivodship Assembly expresses its objection to activities intended to promote the ideology of the so-called LGBT movements, the objectives of which are profoundly contradictory to the principle of freedom, traditional Christian values and natural law,’

We wrote in OKO.press in 2021 that the homophobic resolution meant that the Podkarpackie region lost PLN 1.8 million from Norwegian funds:

Soon afterwards, it transpired that EU money was also at stake.

LGBTQ+ people’s rights? No, this is about cash

‘The actions of the regional authorities which adopted declarations referring to the LGBTIQ community as an ‘ideology’ and declaring their voivodships as LGBTIQ-unfriendly places cast doubt over their ability to uphold the basic principle of non-discrimination in implementing ESIF (European Structural and Investment Funds – added by the author) projects,’ wrote Normunds Popens, Deputy Director General of the European Commission’s Regional Policy Directorate-General.

In his letter, he emphasized that, if the voivodships do not withdraw from their homophonic positions, the EC would withhold payments to the Regional Operational Programmes. He also threatened to sue Poland before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In July 2021, the EC initiated an infringement procedure against Poland for discrimination against LGBT+ people. It pointed out that, as many as 100 local government units had adopted homophobic resolutions.

Therefore, voivodships, as well as counties and municipalities started to withdraw from their anti-LGBT provisions. However, this is not because the voices of the LGBTQ+ community reached them. And there was no shortage of these during the debates on the positions of the voivodships.

During the discussion about the Małopolska declaration, Magdalena Dropek, an activist from the Equality Foundation, Równość.org.pl, in Kraków said: ‘You like to emphasize that the declaration is symbolic. But the violence my community is experiencing is not symbolic.’

In a country which the Prime Minister believes is not homophobic, this was not about human rights. It was exclusively about EU funds.

Poland, the homophobe of Europe

In February 2023, we, at OKO.press, revealed that the EC had closed its proceedings against Poland.

But does this mean that the problem of LGBT+ rights violations in Poland has disappeared?

Decidedly not – this arises from the annual ILGA-Europe ranking, published on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (17 May).

On 11 May 2023, we found out that Poland ranked last among the countries of the European Union for the fourth successive year. Only seven countries had a lower score than Poland. None of them are EU Member States. They are San Marino, Monaco, Russia, Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Belarus.

Poland received a round zero for two key areas: family life and protection from hate speech. According to Anna Maria Linczowska of the Campaign Against Homophobia, this should not come as a surprise to anyone.

‘Polish legislation is still discriminatory: people living in same-sex relationships are strangers to each other by law. Poland does not provide basic security to children from rainbow families,’ she commented.

In its summary of the report, ILGA-Europe draws attention to the anti-LGBT resolutions. According to the authors of the ranking, they restrict the right of expression. They are also an unambiguous symbol of discrimination against the rainbow community.

In a country where, after all, ‘LGBTQ+ people’s rights are not jeopardized’.

Wyłączną odpowiedzialność za wszelkie treści wspierane przez Europejski Fundusz Mediów i Informacji (European Media and Information Fund, EMIF) ponoszą autorzy/autorki i nie muszą one odzwierciedlać stanowiska EMIF i partnerów funduszu, Fundacji Calouste Gulbenkian i Europejskiego Instytutu Uniwersyteckiego (European University Institute).


Katarzyna Kojzar

Absolwentka Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego i Polskiej Szkoły Reportażu. W OKO.press zajmuje się przede wszystkim tematami dotyczącymi ochrony środowiska, praw zwierząt, zmiany klimatu i energetyki.