Poland: What Life Under the Law and Justice Party Means for LGBT Poles

This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on LGBT rights and discrimination in various countries around the world. 

The climate for LGBT Poles has deteriorated under the Law and Justice Party, which came to power in 2015. Attacks on LGBT individuals and organizations are on the rise; legal protections against discrimination remain limited; and curricula reforms privilege nationalist themes over messages of tolerance. In an email interview, A. Chaber, executive director of the Campaign Against Homophobia, explains how LGBT activists are trying to adapt. 
WPR: What is the current state of LGBT rights in Poland, and how has it evolved in recent years?

A. Chaber: Poland is a member of the European Union, but it is something of an outlier on LGBT issues. According to ILGA-Europe, it scores second to last within the EU when it comes to recognizing the human rights of LGBT people. Even Ukraine, a country whose homophobia has become increasingly well known in recent years, scores better than Poland. The only protection from discrimination granted to lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in Poland is contained in the Labor Code. This ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation was introduced as a requirement for EU accession. There is no similar measure covering gender identity. 

There are still no legal avenues allowing same-sex couples to register their relationships with the state. Children born to LGB Polish parents abroad are denied Polish citizenship. Due to a presidential veto of the Legal Gender Recognition Act in 2015, transgender people are still forced to sue their parents in a civil court case to change their gender marker. This act, which was approved by lawmakers earlier in 2015, would have introduced administrative measures allowing for adult trans people to transition medically and legally on the basis of medical opinions, instead of having to resort to a civil court case. 

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