Embassies sign joint letter in support of LGBTI in Poland

Multiple foreign ambassadors to Poland signed a joint open letter expressing “support for the efforts to raise public awareness of issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community and other communities in Poland facing similar challenges.”

“Although due to epidemiological circumstances the 2020 Warsaw Equality Parade could not take place at the foreseen date we express our support for the efforts to raise public awareness of issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] community and other communities in Poland facing similar challenges,” the letter reads.

Coordinated by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Poland, the letter was signed by ambassadors of Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Venezuela, as well as the General Representative of the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region, the General Delegate of the French Community and the Walloon Region, the Representatives in Poland of the European Commission and of the UNHCR, the First Deputy Director/Director’s alternate of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Head of Office of the International Organization for Migration and the Secretary-General of the Community of Democracies.

From the Visegrad Four, only the Czech Ambassador signed the letter. No ambassador representing an Arab or Muslim country put their signature under the letter.

The undersigned acknowledged that “similar efforts” at raising public awareness of issues affecting LGBTI people have been made in the Polish cities of “Białystok, Bielsko–Biała, Częstochowa, Gniezno, Kalisz, Katowice, Kielce, Koszalin, Kraków, Lublin, Łódź, Nowy Sącz, Olsztyn, Opole, Płock, Poznań, Rzeszów, Szczecin, Tarnów, Toruń, Trójmiasto, Włocławek, Wrocław and Zielona Góra.”

“We affirm the inherent dignity of each individual as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Respect for these fundamental rights, which are also enshrined in OSCE commitments and the obligations and standards of the Council of Europe and the European Union as communities of rights and values, obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities,” the letter reads.

The ambassadors went on to state in writing that “in particular to shield communities in need of protection from verbal and physical abuse and hate speech, we need to jointly work on an environment of non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual acceptance. This includes in particular sectors such as education, health, social affairs, citizenship, public service and public documents.”

“Human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBTI persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment. This is something that everyone should support,” the letter concluded.

Poland has tolerance in its DNA: PM

Commenting on the open letter from Sunday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland needs no lessons in tolerance as "tolerance belongs to Polish DNA."

"One only needs to take a look at our recent and less recent history to find out about that; no-one needs to teach us tolerance, because we are a nation that learnt tolerance throughout centuries, and we have offered numerous examples of such tolerance," PM Morawiecki said at a press conference.

The Polish PM said he agreed with the letter where it says that every person deserves respect. "But I completely disagree with the ambassadors' letter in the part where they say that there are people in Poland who are in some way denied this respect."

The prime minister said that representatives of sexual minorities in Poland are aware that they can hold parades and demonstrate their views.

"They only must take into account that in a democracy and a free country, when someone is manifesting their rights on a banner, someone else can manifest different rights. The Polish state and law enforcement services protect both groups," PM Morawiecki said.

The MFA’s response

Replying to the open letter, Deputy FM Paweł Jabłoński tweeted on Sunday that “Every human being enjoys equal level of protection under the Polish law. No one should be discriminated against in political, social or economic life – for any reason whatsoever.”

He also stressed that the MFA “fully agree with this message of today’s open letter by ambassadors accredited in Warsaw.”

No LGBT-free zones exist in Poland

The Deputy FM also wrote: “we positively assess the fact that the open letter does not repeat fake news about alleged ‘LGBT-free zones’ – that do not exist in Poland. We believe that public debate should always be based on facts instead of false narratives invented by media or activists.”

Finally, the official wrote that “we also remind that according to the Polish Constitution, marriage is a union of a woman and a man. Statement of this fact (also in resolutions of local authorities) is not discrimination – it is a sign of respect for the rule of law, and for the values that Poles hold dear.”