Polish president Andrzej Duda caused controversy last week when he described “LGBT” as “neo-Bolshevism” and an “ideology” worse than the former Polish communist regime. Earlier this month, he signed a “Family Charter” promising to continue to ban gay marriage and adoption and to prevent schools from covering LGBT topics.
Duda, a lawyer from Krakow who has been president since 2015, is a member of the conservative-nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party. PiS, which also controls the government, came to power in part because of its support for far-right social positions closely aligned with the Polish Catholic Church.
The president’s words were met with condemnation from critics in Poland and abroad who accuse him of intolerance. There will be a protest against Duda’s “Family Charter” on Sunday, June 21 on Krakow’s Main Square at 4pm.
For his part, Duda has since said that he is not against LGBT people but rather the “ideology.”
So, what is “LGBT ideology”?
LGBT is not an ideology.
LGBT is acronym describing groups of people: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. Sometimes the acronym also includes Q (Queer/Questioning), I (Intersex – i.e., having some minority variations in sexual biology), A (Asexual/Agender), and/or “+” (to include people who might not fit perfectly into one of these categories).
There is a broad consensus among medical researchers and psychologists supported by decades of scientific research that these traits are normal variations of human sexuality and gender which are not a choice and which do not have inherent negative effects on people in these groups or others around them.
Taken by itself, LGBT is simply a term to refer to these people and does not imply any particular set of beliefs. The phrase “LGBT ideology” makes about as much sense as “redhead ideology” or “left-handed ideology.”
Okay, but there are LGBT activists and marches. What do they support?
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other queer people, being individuals, do not hold monolithic political opinions, even among activists. Furthermore, not all activists and supporters are themselves sexual or gender minorities – many heterosexual people, for example, consider themselves allies.
However, activists in the community generally support:
- equal rights to other people in areas like employment, marriage, and adoption
- promoting tolerance and safety for their members in society
- providing spaces where LGBTQI+ people can feel safe, comfortable, and accepted in the face of discrimination
- greater medical support for some of the special challenges they may face
In the words of the American LGBT nonprofit GLAAD, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people want equal rights, not special rights.” The existence of the LGBT movement is not because they are against other people or the rest of society. Rather, it developed in response to the fact that its members are systematically marginalized, bullied, harassed, denounced, oppressed, and even attacked and killed because of their bodies and who they love.
Contrary to the beliefs of some Polish conservatives, the movement is strongly opposed to pedophilia and is generally not concerned with other sexual topics such as the ethics of masturbation or what children are taught in schools (other than the fact that LGBT people exist and are valid).
But why is Andrzej Duda talking about it now?
He is up for reelection on Sunday, June 28.