There are two “public enemies” in Poland: Russia and the LGBT community. Recently, the LGBT community found itself under heavy fire since the government of Catholic fundamentalists Law and Justice takes pride in vilifying these people. The incidents of bigotry and extremism become more and more dangerous.
The marking of the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising that took place during WWII against the Nazi occupation is one puzzling event. For it was an opportunity for attacks on LGBT activists to occur. But it happened for a simple reason – the far right (against which the uprising originally took place during WWII) “celebrated” the anniversary by attacking people with rainbow flags. The Barricade’s Warsaw-based editor Boyan Stanislavski tells the story of these recent incidents to Maria Cernat in their regular weekly podcast.
Boyan also elaborates on the launch of LGBT-free zones in Poland. Another invention, which doesn’t seem to mean something legally, but it is contradicting the constitution of Poland as an expression of intolerance to this community.
But these symbolic fights had some real impact. Some local Polish businesses rejected payments with credit cards that had the rainbow flag printed on them. Another innovation. Two weeks ago it happened first in central Poland, says Boyan Stanislavski. Then it started happening at various places. “I don’t know what kind of business and ethical stance is that. You are refusing to be paid, because the device you are getting paid with, could be stained by something remotely related to an ideology that the right-wingers in Poland say is bad”?
The discussion also touches on the EU’s reaction on the issue of the LGBT-free zones in Poland. Boyan Stanislavski believes the EU doesn’t do anything significant on this issue or on the issue of corruption in Bulgaria, which has now become a central issue with the Bulgarian protests.
There is always a tension between what is being labeled as class struggle and identity politics. Unfortunately, the questions related to identity politics are now becoming central and we, as the left, do not have the luxury of choosing the fights. But, what we can choose are the strategies. Boyan Stanislavski believes that hanging the rainbow on Polish monuments – symbolic protests, will not change much. The progressives should reach out to the people with conservative views. And that could happen if they are made to understand that hatred and violence against the LGBT community harm our families, our friends, our fellow citizens, that we can’t be secure without having security for this community too, that we are in this together.
This is the talk, which took place on 2 August 2020:
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