18th Jan 2021


Time for EU pressure on Warsaw homophobes

  • Pride march in Warsaw in 2019 (Photo: Max Bashyrov)

In the recent weeks following the presidential election in Poland we have seen a deteriation of the situation for LGBTI persons and human rights activists in the country.

The narrow election victory for the Law and Justice candidate Andrzej Duda has led to increased problems, instead of a move to unite the country. These actions need to be condemned, since they threatens the civil liberties of the LGBTI community in Poland.

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We are therefore calling on the EU and governments and political parties across Europe to react strongly and to use the measures at hand in the EU to ensure that the government of Poland respects the basic human rights of its citizens.

At the same time, we recognise that Poland is a divided country. There is a modern and open-minded Poland that if given the chance could be a vital and pivotal part in the development of Europe and the EU.

A role the country could have started fulfilling already had the candidate from the Civic Platform, the EPP party of Poland and sister party to our parties, Rafał Trzaskowski won the elections.

The Poland that voted for the opposition - almost half the country - wants to live in a place where all citizens can be free. Where being LGBTI doesn't make you part of an "invasive foreign ideology", as Law Justice has declared.

This is yet another reason for the rest of Europe to act and not to stay silent when human rights are threatened in an EU country.

It was a welcome step when the European Commission recently denied economic support for international cooperation to Polish municipalities if they were among those that had declared themselves as LGBTI-free zones.

We need more of that kind of straightforward action from the EU.

It is time to use the possibilities that are at hand for the EU to defend the rule of law and an open society in Poland.

Actions should be taken that will effect subsidies and economic support for Poland and the government's role in the EU.

It is time to show that it isn't possible to erode human rights and our common European values without a price.

Not to take action at this point will only serve to make it harder to act in the future.

If the EU wants to be a strong voice for human rights, rule of law, and European values it is time to show it clearly now by putting pressure on the homophobes in the government buildings of Warsaw.

Author bio

Fredrik Saweståhl and Helge Ytterøy L’Orange are president and vice-president, respectively, of the European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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