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IPSOS POLLS for OKO.press show support for civil partnerships and marital equality. It has been higher (60% and 42% respectively), but this time we changed the methodology of taking the poll.

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Our objective was to give people who do not want to allow equal rights for LGBT people the opportunity to openly express their opinion in an interview with the interviewers without the fear and shame of revealing their prejudices. This is how we wanted to examine what the real outcome of voting in a hypothetical referendum would be, if the citizens are left alone with their ballot cards and did not have to be concerned that others would assess their views.

That is why we formulated the question as follows:

What is your view? Should same-sex couples...

  • be given the right to enter into civil partnerships;
  • be given the right to marry;
  • not have anything changed in the law
  • I don’t know, difficult to say

As we can see, the answer actually denying equal rights to LGBT people is formulated completely neutrally, the respondent refers only to the form of the legal norm. Furthermore, like the other answers, the view that the law is already good and should simply not be changed is also a positive view: by choosing this option, the respondent is not declaring that LGBT people should be denied something, he is only saying that it should remain as it is.

Such an answer is also given by respondents who might, in other surveys, for example, have been ashamed of expressing their more or less homophobic convictions.

But, the results leave no doubt: reality is changing before our eyes. Despite the smear campaigns, lies and slandering of LGBT people by politicians from the ruling party and the government media, 56% of Poles are at least in favour of introducing same-sex partnerships in our country (of whom 21% are in favour of marital equality). Meanwhile, 39% of respondents believe the law should not change, so that non-heteronormative people should not have the right to either enter into partnerships or to get married.

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In successive polls in June 2016, February 2019 and August 2019, we asked respondents in the Ipsos poll whether they were in favour of giving same-sex couples the right to enter into civil partnerships or not (52%, 56% and 60% respectively) and – in a separate question – into marriage (38%, 41% and 41%). In this wording, there may also have been an effect of avoiding a negative response, taking away the rights of LGBT people.

Broad consensus on LGBT relationships

There is a broad consensus throughout Poland on civil partnerships for LGBT people. At least such a solution is supported largely by:

  • women;
  • men;
  • people aged 18–60 years
  • inhabitants of towns with a population of 20,000 and above
  • and voters of all parties (even Konfederacja) except PiS.

The conclusion? If a referendum were to be held today, civil partnerships for same-sex couples would be accepted by the vast majority and Poland would join the EU norm: at least civil partnerships are the norm today in 21 out of 27 EU countries. Marital equality is applicable in 13 EU countries.

Succumbing to the temptation to make a bolder, journalistic interpretation of the results of the Ipsos survey, it can be said that the hysterical propaganda of the ruling party, the Church and the right-wing media, the preparation of resolutions on freedom from LGBT ideology, calling fellow human beings with a different sexual orientation a rainbow plague and new Bolsheviks this is a disgusting but unsuccessful attempt to nail jelly to the wall.

It is difficult to imagine that Poles, whose views have been evolving for years towards an increasing acceptance of equal rights for LGBT people, will change their attitude under the influence of Marek Jędraszewski’s, Dariusz Oko’s, Rafał Ziemkiewicz’s or Przemysław Czarnek’s tirades.

How alien the hate speech and obsession with sexuality is to the ‘cultural code’ of the majority of Poles is demonstrated by the distribution of views in our survey by party affiliation (the chart does not include PSL voters because of the very small group of respondents):

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There is no surprise that the Left electorate is the most progressive, as it is the only one more in favour of marital equality than civil partnerships (with both solutions together being as high as 98%!); the progressiveness of the KO voters (88% at least in favour of partnerships, including 38% in favour of marriage) is slightly surprising.

But the fact that as many as 55% of Konfederacja voters support at least civil partnerships shows that equal (or at least more equal) rights for LGBT people are also accepted among young right-wing voters. This turnaround simply cannot be stopped.

This observation is becoming even more obvious when looking at views by age and gender:

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At least the majority of both men and women are in favour of civil partnerships, and the percentages of people aged under 50 are already a major difference: just 30% of respondents in this group are in favour of leaving the current law unchanged. Each subsequent year is likely to see these differences increase.

The countryside is conservative, but not so much at all

We remember that, in all election campaigns since 2015, the Civic Platform, the largest opposition party, steered well clear of the topic of equal rights for LGBT people. There was always one justification: Poles, especially those in rural areas and small towns, are not yet ready for change and a discussion not only about marital equality, but even about civil partnerships. As a result, this field has been filled by the propaganda of the ruling party and the media, slandering the minorities.

There is a grain of truth in this reasoning by the Civic Platform politicians: indeed, rural areas and towns with up to 20,000 inhabitants are more conservative than the rest of the country:

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The trouble is that support in this group of respondents for the introduction of at least civil partnerships in Poland is 46%, which is ... 12 percentage points more than KO supporters in the same cohort.

Whether the conservative/liberal opposition politicians draw conclusions from this we shall find out during the coming election campaign. May the living – homo, hetero, trans – not lose hope.

Ipsos poll for OKO.press and ‘Wyborcza’ conducted using the CATI (telephone) method on 21–23 September 2021. The survey was conducted on a national representative sample of adult Poles N=1000

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).


Michał Danielewski

Wicenaczelny OKO.press, redaktor, socjolog po Instytucie Stosowanych Nauk Społecznych UW. W OKO.press od 2019 roku, pisze o polityce, sondażach, propagandzie. Wcześniej przez ponad 13 lat w "Gazecie Wyborczej" jako dziennikarz od spraw wszelakich, publicysta, redaktor, m.in. wydawca strony głównej Wyborcza.pl i zastępca szefa Działu Krajowego. Pochodzi z Sieradza, ma futbolowego hopla, kibicuje Widzewowi Łódź i Arsenalowi