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Poland: unity against homophobia

In Poland, PiS (Law and Justice), the ruling party, has been actively stirring up homophobia for years. This summer, homophobia has escalated as LGBTQI+ activists experienced strong repression. There were dozens of arrests on the fringes of demonstrations or simply for displaying rainbow symbols. On the other hand, the police escorted homophobic activists into the streets using a truck with loudspeakers to spread hatred and refused to register complaints of homophobic physical assaults following this month's LGBTQI+ rights demonstration in Krakow.

Below is ROSA Poland's article calling for solidarity against homophobia.

Workers, let's not let the homophobic Law and Justice campaign divide us!

In recent months, the Polish authorities have intensified their campaign against LGBT people - after the "LGBT-free zones" introduced by local governments, the police apparatus has taken on the role of repressing activists opposing homophobic propaganda and displaying LGBT symbols (rainbow flags) in public spaces - for example, on monuments.

The Law and Justice government is attacking other groups using their standard repertoire - manipulative materials on the public TV channel TVP, a campaign in the far-right newspapers that favour the government and support from religious fundamentalists like Ordo Iuris. The authorities attack both workers fighting for their rights (teachers) and marginalised groups (such as refugees and LGBT people) with these methods. Hateful campaigns are intended to distract attention from socio-economic problems and subsequent scandals within the power party and the associated oligarchy formed, for example, in state institutions.

But the issue of homophobia goes deeper. In modern times, homosexuality, like other forms of deviation from traditional family life (such as the open sexuality of women), was perceived by the ruling class as a threat to social order - that is, to the power and property of that class. This was particularly evident when industrialisation weakened the traditional, patriarchal peasant family. The working class in cities was growing and the desire for free expression of sexuality and personal freedom was becoming increasingly common. The Church helped to maintain the power of early capitalism by condemning not only homosexuality or divorce, but also strikes and undermining power structures.

Mass social movements of LGBT people, who have had enough of living in the shadows, police violence, discrimination and stigmatisation, began to gain their democratic rights in the 20th century. Significant breakthroughs in LGBT rights have often accompanied the struggles and revolutions of the whole working class - the October Revolution, the revolutionary 1960s; trust between the organised working class and the LGBT community (but let us also remember that LGBT people are part of the working class) has often been built up in the struggle - for example, during the miners' strike in the UK in the 1980s.

Poland is a country that has not experienced these social movements in the same way - the restoration of capitalism in Poland took place under the patronage of the Church and its ideological influences. As a result, the Round Table (the negotiations for the restoration of capitalism in the early 90s) gave us not only mass privatisations and redundancies, but also religion in schools, a ban on abortion and the ground for today's homophobic paranoia.

Law and Justice is not the only authority that, using the principle of 'divide and rule', organises homophobic campaigns to divert attention away from social problems - other right-wing populist regimes in Eastern Europe are doing the same in Romania and Russia, for example.

We cannot allow ourselves to be divided - especially organised workers in the trade union movement should start to do systematic work to educate and act in solidarity, to eliminate homophobia from the ranks of our class, to fight for equality and to expose the actions of the government!

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