Alarming news from Poland with Paulina Dolatowska
1. I’m Paulina Dolatowska, I’m 31 years old and I work as a content writer in an online marketing company. I’m a Christian lesbian, in relationship with my girlfriend for over 5 years, we’re already engaged. I belong to an LGBT+ activist organization called Grupa Stonewall (The Stonewall Group), and an LGBT+ Christian foundation called Wiara i Tęcza (Faith and Rainbow). Our foundation belongs to the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups. I once managed to attend the annual meeting of the forum and it was an amazing experience to meet LGBT Christians from various European countries and various denominations – I’m in touch with some of the participants until today. I belong to a minority church called Reformowany Kościół Katolicki w Polsce (Reformed Catholic Church in Poland) that supports LGBT+ people, marriage equality and gender equality.
2. It all started with a van that promotes lies about the LGBT+ community. There is a right-wing organization that has been driving it all around Poland (maybe they even have more than one). It says, for example, that LGBTQ people want to teach 4-year-olds how to masturbate and 6-year-olds how to agree to have sex.
So, an anarchist group called Stop Bzdurom (Stop the Crap) decided to take care of this in their own way. And you probably know how anarchists act. One of them, a transgender (non-binary) person called Margot, destroyed the van and had a physical fight with its driver. Also, this group is responsible for putting a rainbow flag on various monuments in Warsaw, including the one of Jesus Christ, which made the right wing furious. Stop Bzdurom added a note there saying « This city is ours, too! Fuck you! » – that was unnecessary in my opinion, but anarchists are always radical like this.
So, Margot was convicted for 2 months of arrest, and the LGBT+ community in Warsaw wanted to protect her from being arrested. So, they gathered in front of the KPH seat where the police were supposed to come and didn’t want to let them in to take her. But then, Margot decided she would end this and accept to be arrested. And at this point, the police didn’t want to arrest her! They waited till the crowd got more furious and the riots started and then they arrested Margot along with 48 other people from the crowd – so it was an apparent « show-off » arrest ordered by the conservative party that is now in rule in Poland.
It’s said that the arrested participants were not the most aggressive ones, but just random people who were in this crowd. The police used violence, people were sometimes pushed to the ground so hard that they were bleeding. The arrested participants were refused to contact lawyers, but leftist MPs came to the police station to help them. Also, there is a case reported when they were searching one girl and put hands into her panties…
After this event, there were many protests all across Poland against the brutality of the police that wanted the riot to burst out if they refused Margot when she wanted to be arrested peacefully. I agree that beating the driver was not the best idea, but destroying the van was justified because it was highly offensive. All the other people were released on the next day but Margot was arrested for 2 months; and taken to the male arrest because she has male documents.
Even the LGBTQ community and allies are divided when it comes to this case, because some of them say that Margot did a wrong thing, she broke the law and it’s no wonder she got punished. But it wouldn’t be even an issue if this van was banned to be driven in the first place… I agree that using violence is not a good method, but I also understand that someone got really pissed off that such an offensive van, saying that homosexuals are basically paedophiles, can legally be driven around Polish cities, and expressed their frustration in such a way.
There was a breakthrough in this case a few days ago – Margot was released early! It turned out that all the protests and petitions that the LGBT+ community and allies involved in took an effect.
3. Unfortunately, Roman Catholic Church (which is dominant in Poland) doesn’t support the LGBT+ community at all. On the contrary, they have recently published a document confirming their homophobic attitude. You can find more information on it here :
The most shocking information here is the fact that they think there should be psychological « therapies » cooperating with the Church, aiming at helping people to regain their « natural sexuality ». They don’t call it this way directly, but it clearly sounds that they want to « cure » LGBT+ people, working against what science says.
Fortunately, I’ve found my place outside this homophobic and transphobic Church – in my Church that I mentioned before, LGBT+ Christians can find spiritual help and support. However, our Church is also in danger now because the Attorney General has recently accused us of functioning against the Polish constitution as we allow for both heterosexual and homosexual marriage (only as a religious ceremony though, with no legal effects). We already have some legal help from lawyers who want to protect religious freedom, so let’s hope for the best.
In order to help us, people from other countries can spread the news about what is happening in Poland, report it to international organizations dealing with human rights, and also, if possible, support our organizations so that they can have enough funds to fight homophobia and transphobia. The biggest ones now are: Kampania Przeciw Homofobii (Campaign Against Homophobia), Miłość Nie Wyklucza (Love Doesn’t Exclude), Lambda Warszawa (Lambda Warsaw), and the one I belong to – Grupa Stonewall (The Stonewall Group). It is also great to show your signs of support in the form of social media posts, demonstrations, sending messages to your Polish friends (if you have any) to let them know you’re there for them.
4. My dream for the LGBT+ community in Poland is to get equal rights (including marriage and adoption), to expand the hate crime notion with gender identity and sexual orientation in the Polish law (so far, it tackles only racial, ethnical and religious issues), and to get full support from all the Christian denominations. Maybe Roman Catholic Church supporting LGBT+ people sounds too far-fetched for now, but at least it would be great if they didn’t spread hatred and false information on our community. I also dream of the days where people’s religion, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity doesn’t change anything. It should be like the hair or eyes colour – we can see the differences, but they are not meaningful in any significant matter. Also, we may not like a particular colour, but usually, nobody is beaten or refused equal right because of that.
I recently had a situation when my fiancee and me hanged a rainbow flag on our balcony, as an act of solidarity with Margot and all the people who were harmed in the riots (it was a Facebook initiative to do so); and it ended up with having homophobic stickers on the door to our apartment. Twice! I reported it to the police and they’re already investigating it. Therefore, I also dream of a country where people can openly express their views (unless they’re offending and hurting someone), without being hated, laughed at, or even beaten, as it sometimes happens (even in my city, which is generally quite liberal).
A Polish woman, living in Poznań, although raised in a small village in central Poland. English philologist, working in an SEO agency as a content writer. A lesbian, involved in LGBT+ activism for 12 years already – now in The Stonewall Group and The Faith and Rainbow Foundation. Christian, Old Catholic, belonging to the Reformed Catholic Church in Poland. Passions: video games, cinema, literature, comic books, Bollywood dance, singing. Pets: 3 cats and a rabbit.