In late February, the mayor of Warsaw issued a declaration combating discrimination against LGBT people by providing better sex education in schools and creating a city shelter for LGBT individuals kicked out by their families.
This brought a furious backlash from Poland’s governing populist Law and Justice party and other social conservatives ranging from soccer fans to Church representatives. For now, the backlash has taken the form of toxic public rhetoric, notably by politicians mobilizing for upcoming elections. But in a country where a mayor known for supporting gay rights and other liberal causes was recently stabbed at a televised charity event, such rhetoric can be explosive.
This may seem to be another instance of populists mobilizing supporters by treating minority groups as symbols of how European integration threatens national identity. These minorities may be Muslim refugees taking advantage of the E.U.’s open internal borders or LGBT activists supported by Brussels-based NGOs like ILGA-Europe.