Mayor of Warsaw becomes first to protect rights of LGBTI people in Poland

It was the first document recognizing LGBTI rights in Poland

The mayor of Poland’s capital Warsaw and LGBTI groups have responded to homophobic backlash after he signed a declaration affirming LGBTI rights in the city.

Rafal Trzaskowski signed the first ever LGBT+ Declaration in central-eastern Europe last week. It was also the first document recognizing LGBTI rights in Poland.

The Declaration guaranteed the fulfilment of some of the basic needs of the LGBT+ community. Advocacy groups said it would also enable the local administration to provide what the national government refuses to administer.

‘In my election campaign, I promised Warsaw for everyone,’ Trzaskowski said defending the declaration.

‘Warsaw is a city for everyone that does not discriminate against anyone. Warsaw for everyone is a place where everyone feels safe and absolutely everyone can count on support regardless of sex, color, religion, origin, sexual orientation or views.’

Features of the declaration included LGBT+ hostel (shelter) and community center, the introduction of local crisis intervention system, and providing access to anti-discrimination and sex education at city schools.

The declaration was a culmination of eight months negotiations between the mayor’s office and LGBTI coalition, Love Does Not Exclude (Milosc Nie Wyklucza).

‘Aside from implementing specific solutions to the issues of our community, today is about joy and pride about living in Warsaw which is becoming a Rainbow City and a beacon for the region,’ said Love Does Not Exclude spokesperson, Oktawiusz Chrzanowski.

‘We can hope for a safer environment for us and our partners, friends, and families.’

Homophobic backlash
Not long after the mayor signed the declaration, right-wing nationalists and homophobes vocally opposed it.

The head of the Regional Education Board in southern city of Krakow labelled the LGBTI education initiative as ‘promoting paedophilia’.

Media outlets including the pro-government public news network aired several programmes joined the homophobic rhetoric. They enlisted ‘experts’ who accused LGBT+ activists of planning to molest children in order to ‘turn them gay’.

Right-wing media outlets said the declaration gave special treatment to the LGBTI community. They also said LGBTI people posed a threat to society because of ‘high HIV infection rates’.

‘Rhetorics of this kind are nothing new to us,’ said Love Does Not Exclude’s Hubert Sobecki.

‘They are however new to city officials who are not used to being on the receiving end of homophobia.

‘The goal of the right-wing media and activists is to cause a chilling effect, blocking implementation of the Declaration and stopping us from repeating our success in other cities – We won’t yield to this hate.’

Mayor Trzaskowski agreed.

‘The sea of hate could take over but after signing the LGBT+ declaration we achieved broke records,’ he said.

Show your love for the declaration
Love Does Not Exclude hate encouraged people to write to the Mayor’s office to show they supported the declaration.

‘We know they are currently being flooded by homophobic rants and we need to show that there’s a need for basic protection in this city,’ Sobecki said.

Trzaskowski’s support of the LGBTI community was a bold move in the notoriously anti-gay Poland. Earlier this year, the pro-LGBTI mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, was fatally stabbed at a charity event.

by Shannon Power
Source – Gay Star News