Poland: For Poland's gay community, a shift in public attitudes, if not laws

Many European Union nations are enhancing rights for their LGBT citizens. But not Catholic Poland. This former Soviet satellite constitutionally restricts marriage to a man and a woman. Recent efforts to pass laws to protect the LGBT community in Poland from discrimination and violence have gone nowhere.

But there is one notable change these days — in Polish attitudes. Homophobic attitudes were prevalent among Polish lawmakers when Robert Biedron was elected as a MP in 2011. "I was the first member of the Polish parliament who was openly gay," Biedron says, "and they would not be brave enough to shake hands publicly because somebody would think they're gay."

Polish gay rights activists note other changes, too, including the opening of central Europe's first homeless shelter for LGBT teens earlier this year in Warsaw. Marianna Szczygielska, the project coordinator for the Warsaw-based Campaign against Homophobia, says attitudes toward gays began to change in 2004: "With [the] opening of borders after joining the European Union, things have changed, especially for queer youth," she says. "Even LGBT characters being featured in popular TV series, that already makes a difference in social acceptance."  Read More