Poland’s voters are exactly equally split between a homophobe and an LGBT+ ally for president, with just days to go before the vote.
Moreover the incumbent, President Andrzej Duda, is ensuring that LGBT+ hate is a central issue in the battle.
Poland held the first round of its presidential election on 28 June. At that point, it narrowed the field to just two candidates for the second round.
One is Duda, who won 43.5% of the vote in the first round. The other is Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski who won 30.5%.
As neither achieved 50% on 28 June, the election will now go to a second round on Sunday (12 July).
However the latest polling shows the result is way too close to call with both men at exactly 50%. With other candidates now out of the race, Trzaskowski has picked up much of their support.
With the race narrowing, Duda has repeatedly used homophobia to try to shore up his support.
In his most recent move, he vowed to explicitly ban same-sex couples from adopting children in a constitutional amendment. Actually the amendment would just entrench the current law, which already excludes same-sex partners from adoption.
In June he signed a ‘Family Card’ in which he pledged to keep the ban on same-sex marriage and prevent LGBT+ education in schools.
A week later he branded LGBT+ ‘ideology’ as even worse than the communist doctrine his parents’ generation fought.
Decision time for Poland’s future
It’s a typical tactic of his ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS). The party also stirred up LGBT+ hate to secure a majority in the Sejm, Poland’s parliament, last October.
By contrast, Duda’s opponent, Trzaskowski is arguably the country’s most famous LGBT+ ally.
He made headlines when he launched an LGBT+ Declaration to protect the community last year.
Since then, around a third of Poland has declared itself an ‘LGBT-Free Zone’. Meanwhile, the Sjem is currently considering an anti-LGBT+ Stop Pedophilia bill.
Moreover, even Trzaskowski is against same-sex marriage equality. Instead, he favors offering civil partnerships to same-sex couples.
Analysts say the election is a key moment in modern Polish politics. A Duda victory will allow the right-wing populist PiS to shape the country’s future. However, if pro-European Trzaskowski wins, he can curb their power.