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Poland: ‘stop the rhetoric of hate against LGBTI people’ says PACE General Rapporteur

“Increasing attacks against LGBTI people in Poland over the past weeks and months must stop,” declared Fourat Ben Chikha (Belgium, SOC), the General Rapporteur on the rights of LGBTI people for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), speaking today. “It is alarming to see that in the course of the presidential election campaign, some political leaders have sought to exploit prejudice for political gain, expressly denying LGBTI people’s dignity, equality and humanity.”

“This has occurred against a backdrop in which politicians have signed up to homophobic so-called ‘family charters’, and over eighty local authorities have created zones designated as ‘LGBTI-free’ or ‘free of LGBTI-ideology’. Such zones, by their very nature, deny LGBTI people’s right to exist, and deprive them of a safe space. Creating such zones is a blatant violation of human dignity and equality. They directly threaten our democracies, which depend on societies in which everyone feels welcome and able to play an active role, and they harm individuals who need our support,” he said.

“As politicians, as citizens, we cannot sit idly by while members of our societies are singled out for attack, stigmatised and dehumanised. We must be uncompromising in our rejection of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, and we must call such hatred out whenever we see it. Instead of promoting hatred, I call on all Polish politicians to support stronger anti-hate and anti-discrimination legislation in Poland, and to ensure that it is effectively applied,” he added.

“Words have the power to change the world, and politicians have the responsibility to make sure their words change the world for the better. LGBTI people are people – they are your neighbours, friends, sisters and brothers. Intolerance that may exist in society based on people’s sexual orientation, gender expression or identity or sex characteristics can never justify discrimination; we must never accept it or pander to it, but must work together to eliminate it,” he concluded.