Polish President Andrzej Duda accused the LGBT rights movement Saturday of promoting a viewpoint more harmful than communism and said he agreed with another conservative politician who stated that “LGBT is not people, it’s an ideology.”
Duda made his comments in the small southwestern town of Brzeg as he campaigns for reelection in Poland, a predominantly Catholic nation that spent more than four decades under communist governments.
Gay rights is emerging as a key campaign theme in the presidential election as the race grows close between Duda, backed by the nationalist conservative ruling party, and Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who has called for tolerance for gays and lesbians.
Duda, who is 48, told his supporters that his parents’ generation did not struggle to cast off communism only to now accept “an ideology” that he thinks “is even more destructive to the human being.”
The president said that during Poland’s communist era, regimes ensured survival by indoctrinating the youngest generation.
“That was Bolshevism. It was the ideologizing of children,” he said. “Today, there are also attempts to push an ideology on us and our children, but different. It’s totally new, but it is also neo-Bolshevism.”
Earlier in the week, Duda signed a declaration drafted for the stated purpose of helping families that included language on “protecting children from LGBT ideology” with a ban on “propagating LGBT ideology in public institutions.”
Many conservative politicians in Poland say they are not against gay men and lesbians as individuals, but insist they oppose the goals of a civil rights movement they claim is imported from abroad and threatens to sexualize young people.
But gay and lesbian Poles and liberal Poles say government officials are adopting a language of dehumanization. They believe Duda and others are targeting homosexuals to curry favor with the powerful Catholic church — which faces allegations of covering up clerical abuse — and shore up support among conservative voters ahead of the election.
Some analysts also suspect that Duda and the governing Law and Justice party are making a bid for far-right voters who will mostly support the candidate of a smaller party, Confederation, in the election’s first round but whose votes will be up for grabs in a runoff.