June 20, 2024 opinion

Poland’s LGBTQ+ policies must change to protect its youth

Maria Mitko in Warsaw, Poland

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Warsaw, June 8, 2019. Annual Equality Parade. One of the participants holds a "Marriage for everyone" banner.

Picture by: Miłość Nie Wyklucza | Flickr

Growing up in Poland, I found it confusing to live in a country where not everyone is treated equally. Why does one person deserve more respect than another, especially based on whom they are attracted to?

In a country that deems being LGBTQ+ unnatural or a threat to the country and calls queer people “paedophiles”, how are young people supposed to feel safe in this environment? How is anyone?

Poland is one of six EU states that does not legally recognise any form of same-sex relationship. And this is only one of many restrictions queer people face in this Catholic country. This has to change.

In the most recent Rainbow Map ranking, released on May 15, Poland landed 41st out of 49 evaluated countries, scoring 17.5%. The map ranks European countries on legislative developments concerning the LGBTQ+ community’s human rights. Poland didn’t receive any points in three out of seven categories: family, hate crime & hate speech, and intersex bodily integrity.

Despite the 2.45% improvement since 2023, Poland ranked last among EU members, and not for the first time. Poland has been the ‘most homophobic country’ in the EU since 2020 – the year that Andrzej Duda from the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party was re-elected as Polish president.

Read more:

LGBT Rights: Poland Remains European Union's Most Homophobic Country

‘For the third consecutive year, Poland has been ranked European Union’s least LGBTQ-friendly country’.

By Angelika Pitoń | Gazeta Wyborcza

The Rainbow Map has sparked many reactions – both positive and negative. Many teenagers were outraged and disappointed in our country. One X user went as far as sayingthat “being this country’s citizen is becoming an embarrassment”.

Numerous anti-LGBTQ+ comments were also made under Twitter posts, reporting Poland’s scores. Some people claim they are proud to be Polish for scoring so low or have posted hateful images disrespecting the pride flags.

Such a hateful, anger-filled environment can have only a negative effect on society, especially on young people who are forming their views on the world. I believe intolerance isn’t innate but taught. The people around us can affect and even change our mindsets.

Moreover, not recognising same-sex marriage is unbelievable and incomprehensible to me. How is it possible for anyone but the parties involved in the marriage to decide who they can or can’t marry?

Additionally, same-sex couples cannot adopt children. Why are these couples deemed unfit to care for kids?

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  • Warsaw, 2019. Annual Equality Parade, banner reads "Marriage for everyone with the right to adopt" | Picture by: Miłość Nie Wyklucza | Flickr

  • The problem might have something to do with queer people often being called “paedophiles” in Poland. Paedophilia is a very serious issue, and words like that shouldn’t be thrown to the wind.

    Since 2015, hate speech has been on the rise in Poland against LGBTQ+ people and is ‘often promoted by Polish politicians in the mainstream media and on social media’. It was not until recently (February 2024) that the last ‘LGBT free zone’ disappeared. These zones were regions where opposition to queer people was written into the law citing ‘traditional family values’.

    This segregation is not only impossible to understand, but also particularly harmful to young people as it can teach them that it’s ok to separate people based on their differences. ‘LGBT-free zones’ have no place in the 21st century.

    Another extremely dangerous problem is the existence of conversion therapy – attempts to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression – legal in Poland, despite a bill drafted back in 2019 to ban these practices. In 2020, Polish bishops issued a document that called such clinics necessary to ‘help people who want to regain their sexual health and natural sexual orientation’, suggesting that being queer is unnatural.

    I believe Poland’s approach to laws about the LGBTQ+ community is deeply problematic.

    Such intolerance and hate are being instilled in young people who are just beginning to understand their identities, adding unnecessary pressure and hardship. This not only has a profoundly negative impact, but is also counterproductive and dangerous.

    Poland must improve its LGBTQ+ policies to protect and support its youth. The question remains: will anyone listen and act to foster a more inclusive and accepting society?

    Written by:


    Maria Mitko

    Women’s Desk editor

    Warsaw, Poland

    Born in 2007, Maria lives in Warsaw, Poland, where she attends Witkacy High School and prepares to study English Literature.

    She volunteers at a public library where she organises a board game club. She loves listening to music, reading good books and watching movies. Maria’s favourite animals are dogs, of which she has two – Rudolf and Charlie.’

    Edited by:


    Ananya Prasanna

    Science editor

    Reading, United Kingdom


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