Image Credit: Nikodem Nijaki
Let’s start at the fact that President Duda does not represent the view of every single Polish person, which is even represented by the percentage outcome of voting. It is quite hard for me to comprehend how my home country is voting for such discriminatory laws to be put in place; the most prevalent of course being the increasing number of LGBT+ free zones around the country. What this election has taught me is how hateful people can be on issues that, the majority of the time, have no actual impact on them.
I have never realised the extent of the current problem until recently - as a straight white female living in England since the age of 8, I haven’t been exposed to what really goes on ‘behind the scenes’ back home, as I only spend around 2 weeks every year back in Poland.
I have taken the time to educate myself to what is really going on, and I’m appalled that this hateful behaviour is being justified by religion only. As a practicing Catholic myself, I can truthfully say that I’ve never been taught to hate or discriminate against another person for being who they are - having the preference for someone of the same gender does not make you a bad person, and it is certainly not something that the Church has taught me.
From a young age I’ve always dreamed of having my wedding in my church back in Poland, as it has a lot of sentimental value to my family and I; it is where my parents and uncle got married, where my brother and I had our christening and Holy Communion. However, more recently I’ve been distraught over the fact that some of the people I would invite to my wedding would not be accepted in my home country, and I would never want to consciously put anyone in an uncomfortable position where there would be a chance of them having to hide who they really are.
That’s not to say that such a situation would happen, I’ve been assured by everyone around me that they would still go and have a lovely time, but LGBT+ hate speech is still legal - so why would I put my loved ones in any uncomfortable situation or even a possibility of it happening? It saddens me to think that some of the key figures in my life may feel uncomfortable joining me at my wedding because of the misguided and old-fashioned views that are being perpetuated in Poland.
It is key to say, again, that this does not represent everyone’s views that voted. One need only look at the statistics to see that this is not the case at all. The majority of older people voted for Duda as they receive more support and money with him in power. Therefore, the majority of the time their vote for him is not in support of his anti-LGBT+ promises, but instead of the economic benefits that they receive from him being in power. These individuals do not understand the impact that their vote has had on the community, as they are not immersed in it, nor do they know a person who is a part of it.
The country is divided, but I see so much potential to make change and make a difference to support the LGBT+ community, and nearly half of the country is behind this idea. It is vital to keep on pushing Poland towards the right direction - we can't sit back and expect good change to happen when there are people working against the community.
I know that I need to educate myself even more on how to push for change even when living in the UK, where I can't more explicitly support the community in Poland by attending events such as Pride. Talking about these issues is the first step towards change as it brings awareness to the issue, but we still need to fight the changes that Duda has the potential to create; we need to keep fighting for LGBT+ rights. I want everyone, no matter what you identify as, to feel welcome in my home country and not be afraid to visit - it is a beautiful country with so much good to offer; we can’t let that beauty be ruined by the politicians running it.
Change cannot happen immediately, but as the Polish saying goes: “Kropla do kropli i bedzie morze” (“Drop after drop, there will be an ocean”): if we all push for change, change will eventually happen.