As Poland prepares for the second round of the country’s divisive presidential election on Sunday, incumbent president Andrzej Duda has been accused of using “hate speech” in an anti-LGBT campaign.
In an address at an election rally, he told supporters that LGBT activism is an “ideology” more “destructive than communism”.
“He’s telling us that we are some kind of demons and is dehumanising us in every corner of his election rally,” activist Bart Staszewski told Culture Clash.
Bart accused the Duda of using “hate speech” against LGBT people in order to win conservative votes.
A third of Poland has already declared itself “LGBT free”, in a move condemned by the European Commission as a breach of fundamental rights.
The “LGBT free zones” announced by local municipalities are not legally enforced but campaigners argue they normalise discrimination.
“I feel that homophobia can be more visible here because the politicians support homophobia by such a statement,” activist Bart Staszewski told Culture Clash.
“They feel that we are a problem, that we are an enemy,” he said.
Bart has led a campaign to photograph LGBT people who live inside the zones, alongside a sign which serves as a “visualisation” of the discrimination they face.
Bart’s hometown of Lublin is one of the areas to have declared itself to be LGBT free, but local politicians argue they are protecting traditional values.
“The problem is that it has been politicised by so-called LGBT activists,” said Andrzej Kuszyk, a local politician in Pulawy who supports the zone.
“It is aimed at certain groups who, under the guise of fighting for the interests of LGBT people, try to incorporate certain things into the justice system,” he said.
Activists are concerned that if Andrzej Duda wins a second term in office anti-LGBT sentiment will prevail.
Bart told Culture Clash he is concerned “to have a president who is against us, who is using hate speech against us”.
The second round of voting will take place on July 12th.