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The U.S. ambassador to Poland joined a litany of criticism against “hatred and intolerance” by supporters of the conservative government over a magazine’s plan to distribute “LGBT-free zone” stickers.
The question over gay rights is becoming a polarizing issue before fall general elections, underscoring a departure by the ruling Law & Justice Party from the European Union’s liberal, multicultural mainstream. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has warned that the advancement of gay rights is a “grave danger” for Poland’s families and the future of the bloc.
His supporters have embraced that message, with about 30 cities, mostly in the former communist country’s poorer eastern regions, adopting declarations saying they’re “free from LGBT ideology” and opposing “social engineering that’s foreign to Polish culture and natural order.” The pro-government Gazeta Polska weekly is now planning to distribute the stickers to its readers.
“I’m concerned and disappointed that some groups use stickers to promote hatred and intolerance,” U.S. Ambassador in Poland Georgette Mosbacher said in a Twitter post Friday.
“I’m not sure this is a matter U.S. ambassador should raise, but I wouldn’t put this sticker on my door,” Cabinet spokesman Piotr Muller told Polsat News television.
A day earlier, Warsaw Deputy Mayor Pawel Rabiej notified prosecutors that the magazine was propagating discriminatory behavior similar to that used by German Fascists, whose World War II invasion of Poland killed millions.
“This is very dangerous,” Rabiej said by phone. “Before the Holocaust and the genocide of the Jews, in the 1930s, sexual minorities were persecuted, which not everyone remembers, and calling to create zones free of any group brings us directly back to those times.”
Rabiej, one of staunchly Catholic Poland’s few openly gay politicians, backed giving adoption rights to same-sex couples earlier this year. Kaczynski responded by saying gay people weren’t fighting for tolerance but seeking to change the Polish way of life.
“Hands off our children,” Kaczynski told a party’s convention in March. His prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, had repeatedly said that his goal is to “re-Christianize Europe.”
Rights activists also slammed Law & Justice in May after authorities detained a woman who allegedly had images of an icon of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow-colored halo resembling the symbol of the LGBT community.
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