Andrzej Duda is no longer hiding his homophobia. A week ago ago during a campaign rally in southern Poland, he shouted to the crowd that the liberals are trying to convince Poles that LGBT are people. “It’s just an ideology,” he concluded. The nationalist and conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), that has been in power since 2015, has been saying from the start that the rights and freedoms of different sexual orientations should not have any special protections. Superimposed over this is the party’s smear campaign against LGBT activists, accusing them of conducting a campaign to corrupt Polish children and destroy traditional Polish families. In this campaign, politicians speak in one voice with the hierarchy of the Polish Catholic Church, oblivious to the teachings of Pope Francis.
A year ago at rallies, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński screamed that LGBT people should “keep their hands off our children”, equating people of a different sexual orientation with pedophaelia. Many local governments in eastern and southern Poland, where PiS dominates, designated their towns and villages “LGBT-free zones”. These currently cover a third of Poland.
Andrzej Duda, recognising that his re-election campaign was not going well despite the support of the entire state apparatus and the public media controlled by the ruling party, decided to turn to the issue of LGBT rights in Poland to rally conservative voters living in the provinces.
Duda's words that LGBT are not people but ideology have sparked a storm, not just in Poland. In spite of this, a day later Duda took part in the commemoration of the anniversary of the first transport of Poles to the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. There, along with Jews and Poles, Germans also murdered homosexuals.
And then, unexpectedly, Duda received an invitation from Donald Trump to visit the White House.
This way, Trump is consciously getting mixed up in Polish politics. It’s easy to explain. It was during Andrzej Duda’s presidency that Poland was relegated from an important US partner in Europe into a laughing stock. Our president admires Donald Trump and is ready to fulfill his every wish. In 2017, PiS organised a public speech in the centre of Warsaw for Trump. To assure large crowds, each PiS deputy was told to bring a bus full of cheering supporters. Trump was then able to boast that there is a nation in Poland where he is loved.
In 2019, Poland, ignoring its own interests in the Middle East and the common position of the EU, organised an anti-Iranian conference in Warsaw along with the US. Later, under US pressure, it dropped plans to levy a digital tax on US internet companies. And, at Washington’s request, it decided not to get rid of Uber from Polish streets. Earlier, to get the US president’s backing to build a permanent US Army base in Poland, Duda announced it would be called Ford Trump. When the US administration offered to sell F-35 fighters to Poland, the PiS government immediately dropped the usual demands for an offset and technology transfer. If on Wednesday Trump offers Duda to transfer some of the US troops from Germany to Poland, Duda will eagerly accept, ignoring the fact that such a decision will certainly not strengthen NATO.
But what’s even worse, Poland is seen by the Trump administration as a country that, as the Trojan horse of the ancient times, may weaken the European Union from within.
Steve Bannon, once Trump’s top strategist, even spoke on Polish public television about the plans to build a wide front against the EU. The destruction of the European Union is, after all, the dream of PiS ideologues. Just as Trump dreams of a great America, they want a great Poland, not restricted by the European corset.
A new president in Poland would mean that Trump will no longer be able to influence the decisions of the Polish government so easily. This is why he decided to support Duda. The president’s campaign staff repeat that this is a special honour for Poland because Duda will be the first world leader to be hosted by Trump at the White House since the outbreak of the coronavirus...
Open support by an American administration for a presidential candidate is unheard of. But this is not all. Trump, by hosting Duda at the White House, is sending a signal that he fully approves his and his party’s position. That he is not bothered by outrageous tirades against LGBT. That he approves PiS taking control over the judicial system. That he has nothing against the fact that in Poland the government is restricting freedom of the press and intervenes is culture and art. In a word, Trump is not interested in the fact that in just five years soft authoritarianism has been constructed in Poland and it can begin to flex its muscles at any moment.
Poland remembers Ronald Reagan’s support for Poles’ aspirations toward freedom embodied by Solidarity. We also remember the words of the presidents who followed, cheering on Poles in their reforms that allowed us to return into the fold of the western community. Without US support this would not have been possible. The rushed preparations to welcome President Andrzej Duda at the White House are a sad end to a beautiful history.
Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronovirus pandemic for you.
They are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities. They work on the ground, reporting from hospitals and airports.
We have decided to open online access to our news stories and special guides focused on the issue of public health, for free.
The access to information should be equal for all.