Huge numbers of LGBT+ Polish people are leaving the country in a wave of ‘dignity emigration’.
The wave of migration has been building for years but now seems to be increasing after anti-LGBT+ President Andrzej Duda won re-election.
Many are helped by the fact that Poland is part of the EU. That gives them an automatic right to live, work and study in any other EU member country. However a few are planning or living a new life further afield – including in the USA, Canada, New Zealand.
Meanwhile others wish they could leave but feel they are too old or are tied to jobs they couldn’t easily get in another country.
Polish LGBT+ campaigner Bart Staszewki said on Facebook:
‘The first massive wave of emigration was around Poland’s entry into the [European] Union. People were… hoping for a better life.
‘Now we’ve been dealing with a second wave of emigration for several years. Dignity emigration where LGBT people leave the country looking for a place where they won’t have to live in fear, where they can live normally.
‘Every LGBT person knows at least one person who has emigrated in recent years and more who want to emigrate. These are lost generations that will never return to Poland again.’
‘At least abroad we will have peace’
He asked other LGBT+ people on Facebook if they are leaving or had left Poland – and hundreds replied.
One person replied: ‘In 2009 we went to Ireland. We don’t think about coming back. We live here with different nationalities and the most important thing is that there is tolerance and respect for human beings.’
And another said he and his husband will move to Copenhagen where they can walk holding hands like every ‘normal couple’.
He added: ‘We prefer to abandon management jobs here and take physical work there, but we will be equal to all according to their law!’
Young people in particular seem keen to leave. Many are just waiting until they’ve finished their education in Poland while others will leave as soon as they are old enough.
One said: ‘Been planning on going abroad for over a year now. Thinking about studying abroad. I have two years left in high school. Plus (if everything goes smoothly) I plan to bring my current girlfriend with me. I hope that at least abroad we will have peace.’
Protests as Duda sworn in as president
Duda’s election victory in July came after a tight race against LGBT+ ally and Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski.
LGBT+ issues had been high on the agenda after Duda promised to prevent same-sex marriage or adoption. Moreover he said ‘LGBT ideology’ was worse than the communist doctrine his parents’ generation had fought in Poland.
Meanwhile his anti-LGBT+ and Eurosceptic Law and Justice Party (PiS) party controls both houses of the Polish parliament through its United Right coalition.
However, Polish LGBT+ people and their allies are continuing to demand their rights.
This week Polish police charged three people with hanging LGBT+ rainbow flags and putting pink face masks on three statues around the capital, Warsaw.
The protest included a statue of Jesus Christ and the protestors may face up to two years jail for offending religious feelings.
Meanwhile politicians from the ‘Left’ group in parliament found their own way to show solidarity with LGBT+ people. They formed a rainbow block at Duda was sworn in as president yesterday.