LGBT Warsaw declaration stirs emotions in Polish politics

Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, who is a member of Poland’s opposition PO party, took to the social media to answer Poland’s ruling PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński on LGBT declaration. At the same time the Ombudsman for the underaged questioned the constitutionality of the declaration.

Mr Trzaskowski, as Warsaw mayor, recently signed the declaration on behalf of the city, pledging support to the LGBT community. The declaration included commitments to teach children about LGBT as well as commitments on security, sport and the arts. The commitment on the education side included combating discrimination and sex education to include gender self-identification.

Ruling party leader calls the declaration ‘sexualisation of kids’

On Saturday, during a PiS convention in Jasionka, south-east Poland, Mr Kaczyński said that Mr Trzaskowski’s recent LGBT declaration was “an attack on Polish families and children”, and that PiS would “defend Polish families”, while also criticising the WHO guidelines on sexual education of children and youth, which is referred to in the LGBT declaration.

The ruling party leader attacked the declaration as an attempt at early sexualisation of children. Criticisms of the declaration have also been made by Catholic and conservative circles in Poland.

Mr Trzaskowski has also faced criticism from some of his own supporters and sports celebrities for his stance on the LGBT declaration. The former Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz has distanced herself from him saying that as a grandparent she did not feel comfortable with the declaration. Former football star and the current chairman of the Polish Football Association Zbigniew Boniek tweeted that instead of forcing LGBT on children it would be better to improve their opportunities to participate in sports.

Ombudsman for the underaged wades in

The Ombudsman for the underaged, Mikołaj Pawlak, on Monday said that he was concerned that the LGBT declaration was a violation of the constitution. The Polish constitution states that parents have the exclusive rights to raise their offsprings in line with their own beliefs and values. The constitution also defines marriage as being exclusively a union between a man and a woman.

Mr Pawlak has asked the Mayor of Warsaw to explain what exactly was intended with regard to education of children and at what age. Since the declaration drew on WHO recommendations the Ombudsman as well as many parents are worried that this may mean sexualisation at too early an age. The Ombudsman argues that parents have a right to decide at what age their children are made aware of matters relating to sex and should not be faced with “backdoor attempts to introduce sex instruction in schools”.

Warsaw Mayor hits back

The Warsaw mayor has taken to social media to dismiss the criticisms. He accused PiS of engaging in scare tactics.

“Not so long ago, PiS frightened Poles with the spectre of invasion of Poland by millions of immigrants − lack of security, rape and disease. In fact, it was about helping a few thousand women and children, temporary humanitarian aid,” wrote Mr Trzaskowski.

Slamming PiS chairman’s speech, Mr Trzaskowski went on to write that “today, he [Mr Kaczyński] talks nonsense about the alleged plans of corrupting children. In fact, it’s about tolerance − to protect our fellow citizens from hate speech, intimidation and lynching, to teach children that words hurt, and there is no anonymity on the internet. All the rhetoric about ‘masturbation lessons’ are simply cynical slander.”

In fact the masturbation issue is contained in the WHO recommendations which the LGBT declaration embraces. They advise that small children be encouraged to experiment with masturbation to get to have confidence about their bodies form an early age.

Mr Trzaskowski ends his attack on PiS by saying that “it is thanks to such populist, cynical and illegitimate politics that the temperature of the dispute in Poland is so unbearably high. That is why, from emails and social media, a cesspool of rudeness, hatred and threats is being poured out, which is why we remove rifle bullets from the post office,” referring to the recent case where a man, who was later arrested, sent letters with threats to mayors of 10 Polish cities and former president Lech Wałęsa.