The Polish Humanist Association, an EHF associate member organization, issued a statement on the recent events in Poland.
Polish Humanist Association
Polish regime’s war against LGBT people
12 August 2020
(Information and our stance on the brutal persecution of LGBT people by the Polish law enforcement and administration of justice.)
In order to understand the present situation in full, one has to go back in time. For years, Poland has faced a political war on worldviews, fighting for the consciences of its citizens.
After 1989 – thus officially after the country opened up to a new social and political reality – the Catholic Church has fought ruthlessly for domination and power. For over a year now, Polish cities have been plagued by pro-life and homophobic campaigns, during which the activist of that particular movement take to the streets in vans that have been covered with pictures of supposedly aborted fetuses, touting anti-women and homophobic slogans, including such extreme hate speech as “fags to gas”.
This campaign spreads a brutal message and entices the persecution of the liberal, pro-equality communities, feminism and people who are a part of or associated with LGBT communities.
Margot is currently being held in a male detention center(!), disrespecting her gender and her transformation. She is presented by the government officials and the media as a criminal and pervert. Her actions are being treated as if they were serious criminal offenses. All she did was block a propagandizing pro-life van and then began to tear off the posters that were stuck to it. That was the entirety of her crime. (According to some sources, while tearing off the posters, she cut a tilt on the van or its tires).
The Minister of Justice, as well as the Attorney General (the politicization of the prosecution and some courts is visible in the union of the two offices) – Zbigniew Ziobro, has called Margot a dangerous thug. The arrest itself, recorded by activists was provocative in nature. The police let Margot free while she was located at the headquarters of Stop Bzdurom (Stop The Bullshit) – even though she was willing to give herself up to them at that point. They allowed her, along with those supporting her, to leave the organization’s headquarters and make her way to Krakowskie Przedmieście Street. Half an hour later, when a crowd surrounded the activist, the police commenced the brutal arrest, which was meant to make a show, with a brutal display of her being handcuffed, her arms being brutally twisted and then Margot being dragged into an unmarked car. The police action turned into a provocation, because by treating the activist in such a brutal manner, the police enticed frustration and fear in the crowd that surrounded her, which quickly escalated into a riot.
What we are currently faced with is a constant barrage of provocation maintained by the government and government media, where those protesting in defense of Margot are shown alongside further disturbances taking place. That way, the ruling party aims to create what it needs most in order to strengthen their power. The right-wing politicians and the church have created another enemy: the so called “LGBT ideology” – allegedly a serious threat to social order.
On the other hand, Polish minorities are learning a very disheartening lesson: the truth does not matter, justice does not matter, human rights do not matter, and that there is no room for a minority. The rainbow flag is treated as an offense, a symbol of evil, and activists face increasingly more harassment every day.
Arrests by the police are becoming more brutal with every protest, and it is far too often heard that female activists were humiliated and felt uncomfortable, as women. Encroaching on one’s bodily rights through force, similarly to disrespecting human rights, has become an everyday reality at Polish protests.
The fury of the police and the government is targeted at people who have for years worked in the name of equality, respect, the appreciation of so-called sexual minorities, as well as in the name of respect for democracy.
Ever since PiS came into power, the it has built its politics on the division of Poles and the instilling of beliefs that there is a bad, worse kind, made up of leftists, ecologists, feminists and LGBT, who are a threat to Poland, its tradition and world.
Margot’s arrest is an element of this war on worldviews, which has become increasingly more ruthless in nature, and only harms more and more – not only us, a society issued on hate, but also the weakest and all those who have been categorized as bad, only because they love and are trying to be themselves. This war has already seen many casualties – all those children who couldn’t bear it any longer and committed suicide, all the people who have become ill with depression and are so afraid to leave their houses only for the fact that they are in a homosexual relationship or do not live in a way that PiS and the Catholic Church would like them to.
Margot’s arrest is unfortunately not the end of the war on worldviews, simply its next cruel stage. As I write these words, the escalation and brutality continues to rise.
We are outraged and strongly condemn this extremely unjust, illegal and brutal act of persecuting LGBT+ people in Poland.
In our opinion, this is an intentional policy of the government or at least of its most radical faction headed by the minister of justice who has already announced that in Autumn they would adopt and implement new, more tough laws and policies.
We also demand that police officers who abused power in the most brutal way, meeting the definition of torture, be charged and put to justice.
We call upon all humanists and people in Europe to protest in any suitable way against those violations of human rights and liberties that recently have taken place in Poland. Polish authorities must respect domestic and European laws, norms and values, or face condemnation and tough retaliatory measures that should be imposed in response to their discriminatory, brutal and illegal acts and policies.
Translated by Olga O’Tool
Joanna Hańderek and Andrzej Dominiczak on behalf of the Board of the Polish Humanist Association