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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 36, New Delhi, August 22, 2020

Open Letter of Solidarity and Protest Against Homophobic Repression in Poland

Friday 21 August 2020

Dr. Ursula von der Leyen
President of the European Commission

Regarding: The LGBT+ Community in Poland

17 August 2020

Dear Dr. von der Leyen:

We, the undersigned, express our outrage at repressions directed against the LGBT+ community in Poland. We speak out in solidarity with activists and their allies, who are being detained, brutalized, and intimidated. We voice our grave concern about the future of democracy in Poland, a country with an admirable history of resistance to totalitarianism and struggle for freedom.

On Friday, 7 August 2020, 48 persons were arrested in Warsaw – in some cases quite brutally – and detained on the grounds that they had participated in a violent illegal gathering. In fact, they were engaged in a peaceful protest in solidarity with an LGBT+ activist named Margot, who had been arrested for damaging a homophobic campaigner’s van. Her group had also placed rainbow flags over statues, including a statue of Christ. These actions were neither “hooliganism” nor “provocations,” as Poland’s government-run media insist, but rather desperate acts of resistance against degrading homophobic hate speech. The van is one of many similar vehicles parading outrageous claims around the cities of Poland: equating homosexuality with pedophilia, and asserting that gays are the source of diseases and a threat to children. Efforts to stop this well-funded hate campaign by legal means had led to nothing.

The broader context is the persistent use of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric by Polish politicians and media, attacks against “LGBT ideology” in the recent presidential campaign, preceded by the emergence in many municipalities and districts of “zones free of LGBT ideology,” allegedly defending the safety of families and children, and last year’s violent attacks against Equality March in Białystok. Homophobic aggression in Poland is growing because it is condoned by the ruling party, which has chosen sexual minorities as a scapegoat with no regard for the safety and well-being of citizens. Margot is, in fact, a political prisoner, held captive for her refusal to accept indignity.

We call on the Polish government to stop targeting sexual minorities, to stop supporting organizations that spread homophobia and to hold accountable those who are responsible for unlawful and violent arrests of August 7, 2020.

We call on the European Commission to take immediate steps to defend core European values – equality, non-discrimination, respect for minorities – which are being blatantly violated in Poland. LGBT+ rights are human rights and must be defended as such.

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  • Paul Auster, writer, USA
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