A wave of fear has swept over the LGBTQ+ community in Poland as President Andrzej Duda was sworn into office for a second term this morning. His re-election campaign featured a “Family Card” of proposals that promised to outlaw marriage equality and prevent child adoption by LGBTQ+ families. But Poles are not prepared to sit down and just take what is seen as an inevitable attempt rollback of LGBTQ+ rights.
Members of the political party opposing Duda with concerns about the direction of the deeply religious country, made a visual statement at the swearing in. They coordinated the color of their clothing so they could create their own rainbow flag in the National Assembly as Duda took the oath of office. In addition, they wore rainbow masks in light of the going global pandemic. Similarly styled masks were being given out in Poland by a gay couple in April. But while the politicians are staying, seemingly ready to fight against Duda, some queer citizans are leaving the country.
“Like where’s the line?” journalist, activist, and influencer Piotr Grabarczyk told the Associated Press. “Is there a line they are not going to cross?"
Grabarczyk and his partner, Kamil Pawlik, fled to Spain recently. He assumed “bad things” might happen to the LGBTQ+ community following Duda’s reelection, but the situation had grown dangerous enough the couple decided it was time to leave. They are a part of a group exodus that represent "a second wave of immigration." Associated Press said there are no exact statistics on how many have left.
The events are set against a backdrop of rising hate and promises of increased discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in the former Soviet satellite state. Duda is a registered Independent, but allies with the right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS). PiS actively fights against protections for LGBTQ+ persons, and recently supported a “Stop Pedophilia” bill that calls for punishing anyone who “promotes or approves sexual intercourse or other sexual activity by a minor” with up to three years in prison.
Unlike Grabarczyk and Pawlik, some members of the LGBTQ+ community are unable to leave the county. Michał Niepielski, a 57-year-old radio technician from Krakow, told the AP he and his partner are “very afraid” of future events in Poland but is not leaving in part becasue he fears he will be unable to find work outside his country. He also feels an obligation to stay and resist.
“We have sympathy with the people who haven’t come out of the closet yet and now will have to stay in the closet for a long time, perhaps until the end of their lives,” he lamented. “That’s a tragedy. That’s one reason we are staying.”