Last Saturday, during a campaign rally in Brzeg in southwestern Poland, president Andrzej Duda compared LGBT to neo-Bolshevism and warned "against spreading ideology to children in schools". According to Duda, LGBT was an "ideology which, hiding behind the platitudes about respect and tolerance, promotes deep intolerance and the elimination, the exclusion of all those who do not want to give in to it", which makes it "even more destructive for mankind" than the communist-era propaganda.
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The attacks on LGBT have been picked up by global news agencies, which faithfully quoted the President's words, which were then reprinted by the most important media outlets in the world. In response, Polish president accused Western media for putting his words out of context and distributing fake news .

Even a cursory reading of the articles published by AP, Reuters, FT and the Guardian, i.e. the outlets to which Andrzej Duda addressed his Twitter rant, is enough to notice that their coverage provided ample context for their readers. Duda’s remarks on Twitter came not out of genuine concern for ensuring that his campaign speech was quoted within its proper context . Instead, it was a blatant effort to play down the interest of foreign media in covering the story, with the addressees being Polish voters, not international press.

With little more than a week before Poles cast their ballots in the first round of presidential election, the president’s seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls had almost entirely disappeared. While Duda is still up by anything between 10 and 15 percentage points in the first round, the surveys show that the run-off against the leading opposition candidate Rafał Trzaskowski will have both candidates going neck and neck. 

As a result, Duda decided that an attack on LGBT+ community can help him regain momentum. So far, it appears it did just the contrary. This is why Duda is launching another desperate effort to boost his popularity, as his administration succeeded in organizing a last-minute official visit to the United States and a meeting with President Donald Trump next Wednesday.

Trzaskowski remains on the offensive. On Wednesday, hours before the first televised presidential debate broadcasted by the state owned TVP, he announced he was suing the channel over violation of his personal rights after the broadcaster aired an antisemitic segment during prime time news which suggested Trzaskowski’s allegience lies with international Jewish interests.

The debate itself was a dull and forgettable affair, despite the broadcaster’s obvious attempts to prepare the stage for an onslaught of attacks on Trzaskowski. Of the five questions that the candidates had to answer , three were taken directly from a campaign ad of president Duda attacking his main rival.

Our mission is to keep you up to date with all major stories related to Polish politics as well as the day-to-day experiences of Poles and expats during the pandemic. 

However, we also continue to report on broader issues related to our belief in core values of democracy and rule of law. This week, we published a plea by our Deputy Editor in Chief Piotr Stasiński underlining the central importance of equal rights for the LGBT+ community and protesting against the pervasive political and media narrative which downplays them as a secondary matter of “identity politics”.

In addition to publishing news and stories, we are also covering how the expat community in Poland is coping with both the virus and the country-wide lockdown by giving voice to your testimonials. If you are interested in sharing your story, please send as an e-mail at: listy@wyborcza.pl .

Thank you for being with us. There is no freedom without solidarity.

Miłosz Wiatrowski

Newsletter’s Editor

PhD candidate in Contemporary European History, Yale University 

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