LGBT rights in Poland
Location of Poland (dark green)

– in Europe (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (light green)  –  [Legend]

StatusLegal since 1932
Gender identityTransgender people allowed to change legal gender
MilitaryLesbians, gays and bisexuals allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation protections in employment (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsLimited cohabitation rights
AdoptionSame-sex couples not allowed to adopt

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Poland face legal challenges not faced by non-LGBT residents. According to ILGA-Europe's 2023 report, the status of LGBTQ rights in Poland is the worst among the European Union countries.[1]

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity have been legal in Poland since 1932, when the country introduced an equal age of consent for homosexuals and heterosexuals, which was set at 15.[2][3] Poland provides LGBT people with the same rights as heterosexuals in certain areas: gay and bisexual men are allowed to donate blood, gays and bisexuals are allowed to serve openly in the Polish Armed Forces, and transgender people are allowed to change their legal gender following certain requirements, which include undergoing hormone replacement therapy.[4] Polish law bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, although such protections may not be effective in practice.[5] No protections for health services and hate crimes exist. In 2019, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the provision of Polish Petty Offence Code, which made it illegal to deny goods and services without "a just cause", was unconstitutional.[6]

Polish society tends to hold conservative views about issues dealing with LGBT rights. A majority of the Polish population is affiliated with the Catholic Church, and as such, public perception and acceptance of the LGBT community are strongly influenced by Catholic moral doctrines. Article 18 of the Polish Constitution states that "Marriage, as a union of a man and a woman, shall be placed under the protection and care of the Republic of Poland."[7] According to several jurists, this article bans same-sex marriage.[8][9][10][11] The Supreme Court, the Constitutional Tribunal and the Supreme Administrative Court have ruled that Article 18 of the Constitution limits the institution of marriage to opposite-sex couples, and that the legalization of same-sex marriage would require a constitutional amendment.[12][13][14][15][16] Poland does not recognise civil unions either, though discussion on this issue is ongoing. While ahead of the 2015 Polish parliamentary election, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party had taken an anti-migrant stance, and in the run-up to the 2019 Polish parliamentary election, PiS focused on countering alleged Western "LGBT ideology".[17] Encouraged by national PiS politicians,[17] by April 2020, 100 municipalities (including five voivodships), encompassing about a third of the country, informally declared themselves "LGBT-free zones".[18]

Acceptance for LGBT people in Polish society increased in the 1990s and the early 2000s, mainly amongst younger people and those living in larger cities such as Warsaw and Kraków. There is a visible gay scene with clubs all around the country, most of them located in large urban areas. There are also several gay rights organizations, the two biggest ones being the Campaign Against Homophobia and Lambda Warszawa. Opinion polls on the public perception of LGBTQ rights in Poland have been contradictory, with many showing large support for registered partnerships,[19] and some indicating a majority of opponents.[20] The general trend however is an increase in the support for registered partnerships and same-sex marriage. Many left-wing and liberal political parties, namely the New Left, Labour Union, the Social Democratic Party, Your Movement, Modern, Together and Spring, have expressed support for the gay rights movement. Individual voices of support can also be found in the centre-right Civic Platform.[21]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

During the Partitions of Poland (1795–1918) and the German occupation of Poland (1939–1945), laws prohibiting homosexuality were imposed on the territory that makes up the current Polish state.[citation needed]

Following World War I, same-sex activity continued to be formally criminalized in now-independent Poland, because the penal codes of the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austria-Hungarian Empire remained in power.[22] They mostly criminalized male same-sex acts, though the Austrian code included broader provisions against so-called "same-sex fornication" and was also used against women.[23][22]

The new Polish Penal Code of 1932 (Kodeks karny) decriminalized consensual same-sex acts.[22] In 1948 during the Polish People's Republic, age of consent was set to 15, equal to that of heterosexual partners.[24][25] Homosexual prostitution was legalized in 1969. Homosexuality was removed from the list of diseases in 1991.

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Main article: Recognition of same-sex unions in Poland

There is no legal recognition of same-sex couples in Poland, though cohabiting same-sex couples do enjoy certain limited benefits, namely in the tenancy of a shared household, the right not to testify against the partner and residency rights under EU law. Same-sex marriage is not recognized, and Article 18 of the Constitution of Poland states that "Marriage, being a union of a man and a woman, as well as the family, motherhood and parenthood, shall be placed under the protection and care of the Republic of Poland."[26] This has led to much debate over whether or not it is a definitive ban on same-sex marriage. A ruling in 2019 from an administrative court concluded that the language in Article 18 does not explicitly ban same-sex marriage.[27] The justification of the ruling regarding the meaning of Article 18 is not binding. The sentence is binding only on the parties in the proceedings. Earlier judgments of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Tribunal and the Supreme Administrative Court have found the Constitution bans same-sex marriage by defining marriage as a heterosexual-only institution.[12][13][14][15][16]

A civil union bill was first proposed in 2003. In 2004, under a left-wing Government, the Senate approved the bill allowing gay and lesbian couples to register their relationship. Parties to a civil union under the bill would have been given a great range of benefits, protections and responsibilities (e.g. pension funds, joint tax and death-related benefits), currently granted only to spouses in a marriage, although they would not have been allowed to adopt children. The bill lapsed in the 2005 general election, however.

The major opposition to introducing same-sex marriages or civil unions comes from the Roman Catholic Church, which is influential politically, holding a considerable degree of influence in the state.[28] The Church also enjoys immense social prestige.[29] The Church holds that homosexuality is a deviation.[28] In 2012, the nation was 95% Roman Catholic, with 54% practicing every week.[30]

In January 2013, the Sejm voted to reject five proposed bills that would have introduced civil partnerships for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.[31] The High Court later issued an opinion stating that the bills proposed by the Democratic Left Alliance, Your Movement and Civic Platform were all unconstitutional, as Article 18 of the Constitution protects marriage.[32] In December 2014, the Sejm refused to deal with a civil partnership bill proposed by Your Movement, with 235 MPs voting against debating the bill, and 185 MPs voting for.[33] In May 2015, the Sejm again refused to deal with the topic, with 215 MPs voting against and only 146 for. Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said that civil partnerships were an issue for the next Parliament to deal with.[34] A new partnership bill was proposed on 12 February 2018 by the Modern party.[35][36][37]

In June 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that EU members states must grant married same-sex couples, where at least one partner is an EU citizen, full residency rights and recognise their freedom of movement.[38]

Poland did not implement this ruling, and in July 2020, the European Court of Human Rights notified the Polish government of cases filed by Polish same-sex couples, inviting the Polish government to present its position on the issue (Andersen v. Poland[39])

Parliament vote on civil unions

Sejm vote on civil partnerships
Date On For Against Withheld Result
25 January 2013 Registered partnership[40] 150 276 23 No
25 January 2013 Registered partnership[41] 138 284 28 No
25 January 2013 Registered partnership[42] 137 283 30 No
25 January 2013 Registered partnership[43] 137 283 30 No
25 January 2013 Partnership agreement[44] 211 228 10 No
18 December 2014 Registered partnership 185 235 18 No
26 May 2015 Registered partnership 146 215 24 No

Limited cohabitation rights

On 23 February 2007, the Appeals Court in Białystok recognized a same-sex cohabitation.[45] On 6 December 2007, this ruling was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Warsaw.[46]

While Poland possesses no specific law on cohabitation, it does have a few provisions in different legal acts or Supreme Court rulings that recognise relations between unmarried partners and provides said partners specific rights and obligations. For example, Article 115(11) of the Penal Code (Polish: Kodeks karny) uses the term "the closest person", which covers romantic relations that are not legally formalised. The status of "the closest person" gives the right of refusal to testify against the partner. The term "partner" includes same-sex couples.

A resolution of the Supreme Court from 28 November 2012 (III CZP 65/12) on the interpretation of the term "a person who has lived actually in cohabitation with the tenant" was issued with regard to the case of a gay man who was the partner of a deceased person, the main tenant of the apartment. The Court interpreted the law in a way that recognised the surviving partner as authorised to take over the right to tenancy. The Court stated that the person actually remaining in cohabitation with the tenant - in the meaning of Article 691 § 1 of the Civil Code - is a person connected with the tenant by a bond of emotional, physical and economic nature. This also includes a person of the same sex.[47][48] Previously, in March 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled, in the case of Kozak v. Poland, that LGBT people have the right to inherit from their partners.[49]

Adoption and parenting

Same-sex couples are unable to legally adopt in Poland. Furthermore, lesbian couples do not have access to IVF.

In October 2018, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that a lesbian couple may register their 4-year-old boy as their child. Polish media described the case as "the first of its kind in Poland".[50]

In July 2020 the President of Poland formally proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would ban adoption by a person in a same-sex relationship.[51]

In November 2020 a law was proposed to only allow married couples to adopt. This would make it impossible for same-sex couples to adopt, due to same-sex marriage not being allowed in Poland. Demonstrations were unable to be held, due to the COVID-19 virus.

In March 2021, the Polish government announced a new law that banned the adoption of children by same-sex couples. The law will also require authorities to vet candidates applying for adoption as a single parent to ensure that they are not cohabitating with someone of the same sex.[52]

Discrimination protections

Anti-discrimination provisions were added to the Labour Code (Polish: Kodeks pracy) in 2003. The Polish Constitution guarantees equality in accordance with the law and prohibits discrimination based on "any reason".[26] The proposal to include a prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the Constitution was rejected in 1995, after strong Catholic Church objections.[53]

In 2007, an anti-discrimination law was under preparation by the Ministry of Labour that would prohibit discrimination on different grounds, including sexual orientation, not only in work and employment, but also in social security and social protection, health care, and education, although the provision of and access to goods and services would only be subject to a prohibition of discrimination on grounds of race or ethnic origin.[54] On 1 January 2011, a new law on equal treatment entered into force. It prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in employment only.[55][56] In September 2015, Amnesty International concluded that "the LGBTI community in Poland faces widespread and ingrained discrimination across the country" and that "Poland's legal system falls dangerously short when it comes to protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and other minority groups from hate crimes".[57]

Between 2015 and 2020, the Polish government has worked to reduce the effectiveness of the anti-discriminatory protections granted to LGBT people under EU law. Examining recent anti-discrimination cases, legal scholar Marcin Górski found that "the principle of equal treatment in Poland appears generally ineffective".[5]

In June 2018, the Polish Supreme Court ruled that a Łódź printer acted illegally when he refused to print banners for an LGBT business group. The court argued that the principle of equality meant the printer did not have the right to withhold services from the business. The court also ruled that sexual orientation, race or other features of a person cannot be the basis for refusal to offer a service, but that freedom of conscience and religion must also be taken into account. The Campaign Against Homophobia welcomed the ruling, but it was condemned by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro who called the ruling "against freedom" and "state violence in service of the ideology of homosexual activists".[58] Ziobro filed a case with the Constitutional Tribunal to recognize the provision on the basis of which the printer was convicted as unconstitutional. On 26 June 2019, the Tribunal issued a judgment in which it found that the provision was incompatible with the Polish Constitution.[59]

In July 2020 the government of Poland sued IKEA for firing an employee for severe homophobic remarks he made on the company's internal website. Poland's justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro called the dismissal, which was made in accordance with Poland's anti-discrimination laws,[failed verification (See discussion.)] "absolutely scandalous".[60][61]

The Polish ministry of Justice is funding a campaign for "counteracting crimes related to the violation of freedom of conscience committed under the influence of LGBT ideology", which is meant to protect people who "suffer under the pressure of new leftist ideologies".[62]

Hate crime laws

As of 2019, a bill is pending in Parliament to provide penalty enhancements if a crime is motivated by the victim's gender, gender identity, age, disability or sexual orientation.[63]

Gender identity and expression

Legal gender changes have been performed since the 1960s.[4] Transgender people seeking to change their legal gender must receive a medical diagnosis. Only after the legal gender has been changed a transgender individual gets a right to undergo a sex reassignment surgery. The reason for this is because any surgery resulting in infertility is prohibited by Polish law (as stated in Polish Penal Code: Kodeks Karny art. 156 §1), with a few exceptions in cases such as uterine cancer or myoma. That is, castration on request is illegal and transgender individual must first seek a legal change, since just a medical diagnosis from a doctor is not enough.

A transgender individual must face a number of obstacles before having their legal gender changed, such as suing their parents. On the basis of offered further evidence (such as a medical diagnosis, medical records, witness/parental statements, etc.) a court may either pass sentence or refuse to do so.

In July 2015, the Polish Sejm approved a transgender recognition bill. Under the bill, transgender people would have been able to change gender without any physical interventions, but would have required statements from mental health experts that they are suffering from gender dysphoria. The bill was approved 252 to 158. The Senate proceeded to approve the bill in August,[64] but President Andrzej Duda vetoed it in October. The Parliament failed to override his veto.[65]

Military service

Since the 1990s,[66] lesbian, gay and bisexual people are not banned from military service and discrimination against them is officially forbidden. However, there is an unwritten rule of "don't ask, don't tell" and most gay Polish soldiers conceal their sexual orientation. In 2013, military personnel told portal that openly gay personnel would face social difficulty, especially for higher ranks, as for "commanding staff - officers and high-ranking NCOs - admitting to same-sex attraction would mean losing respect - qualities without which you simply cannot be a commander".[67]

Openly transgender people are officially barred from military service on the medical grounds. Diagnosis of gender dysphoria results in being automatically assigned as "permanently and completely unfit for military service, both in the time of conflict and peace".[68]

Conversion therapy

Further information: Legality of conversion therapy § Poland

In February 2019, Modern MPs alongside Campaign Against Homophobia activists submitted a draft bill to the Sejm to ban gay conversion therapy. The draft bill aims to ban using, promoting or advertising conversion practices. It will also prohibit promoting people or entities that offer, use, advertize or promote the pseudoscientific practice. The MPs plan to introduce the bill to the Polish Parliament where it will have its first reading in the upcoming months.[69][70] Such a ban would implement the recommendation of the European Parliament[71] and United Nations Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.[72]

In August 2020, the Polish Episcopal Conference released a document which recommended the creation of counseling centres "to help people who want to regain their sexual health and natural sexual orientation". It insists that the scientific consensus that conversion therapy is ineffective and potentially harmful to be "political correctness".[72]

Blood donation

Gay and bisexual men have been allowed to donate blood in Poland since 2005. In 2008, the National Blood Center established regulations banning blood donation by gay and bisexual men, but the regulations were quickly repealed.[73]

Social attitudes and public opinion

According to Gregory E. Czarnecki, there are some similarities between antisemitism and homophobia in Polish nationalist discourse, especially that both groups are seen as deviant and diseased as well as a threat to the nation.[74][75]


A survey from 2005 found that 89% of the population considered homosexuality an unnatural activity. Nevertheless, half believed homosexuality should be tolerated.[76]

An opinion poll conducted in late 2006 at the request of the European Commission indicated that Polish public opinion was overwhelmingly opposed to same-sex marriage and to adoption by same-sex couples. A 2006 Eurobarometer poll found that 74% and 89% of Poles respectively were opposed to same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. Of the EU member states surveyed, only Latvia and Greece had higher levels of opposition.[77][78] A poll in July 2009 showed that 87% of Poles were against gay adoption.[79] A poll from 23 December 2009 for Newsweek Poland reported another shift towards more positive attitudes. Sixty percent of respondents stated that they would have no objections to having an openly gay minister or a head of government.[80]

A 2008 study revealed that 66% of Poles believed that gay people should not have the right to organize public demonstrations, 69% of Poles believed that gay people should not have the right to show their way of life. Also, 37% of Poles believed that gay people should have the right to engage in sexual activity, with 37% believing they should not.[81]

In 2010, an IIBR opinion poll conducted for Newsweek Poland found that 43% of Poles agreed that openly gay people should be banned from military service. 38% thought that such a ban should not exist in the Polish military.[82]


In 2011, according to a poll by TNS Polska, 54% of Poles supported same-sex partnerships, while 27% supported same-sex marriage.[83]

In a 2013 opinion poll conducted by CBOS, 68% of Poles were against gays and lesbians publicly showing their way of life, 65% of Poles were against same-sex civil unions, 72% were against same-sex marriage and 88% were against adoption by same-sex couples.[84]

In a CBOS opinion poll from August 2013, a majority (56%) of respondents stated that "homosexuality is always wrong and can never be justified". 26% stated that there is nothing wrong with it and can always be justified". 12% were indifferent.[85]

A CBOS opinion poll from February 2014 found that 70% of Poles believed that same-sex sexual activity "is morally unacceptable", while only 22% believed it "is morally acceptable".[86]

An Ipsos survey in October 2019 found that a majority of Polish men under 40 believe that "the LGBT movement and gender ideology" is the "biggest threat facing them in the 21st century".[87]

Opinion polls

Further information: Recognition of same-sex unions in Poland § Public opinion

Support for the recognition of same-sex relationships 2001[88] 2002[89] 2003[90] 2005[91] 2008[92] 2010[93] 2011[94] 2013[95] 2017[96] 2019[97] 2022[98]
"registered partnerships" 15% 76% 34% 56% 46% 44% 41% 48% 45% 47% 25% 65% 33% 60% 36% 56% 35% 60% 64% 30%
"same-sex marriages" 24% 69% 22% 72% 18% 76% 16% 78% 25% 65% 26% 68% 30% 64% 29% 66% 48% 42%
"adoption rights" 8% 84% 8% 84% 6% 90% 6% 90% 6% 89% 8% 87% 11% 84% 9% 84% 24% 66%
Support for LGBT parenthood 2014[99]
right for a lesbian to parent a child of her female partner 56% 35%
the situation above is morally acceptable 41% 49%
right for a gay (couple) to foster the child of a deceased sibling 52% 39%
the situation above is morally acceptable 38% 53%
Support for the recognition of same-sex relationships, 2012[100] opposite-sex couples same-sex couples
"registered partnerships" 72% 17% 23% 65%
"right to obtain medical information" 86% 68%
"right to inherit" 78% 57%
"rights to common tax accounting" 75% 55%
"right to inherit the pension of a deceased partner" 75% 55%
"right to a refund in vitro treatments" 58% 20%
"right to adopt a child" 65% 16%
Support for the recognition of same-sex relationships 2011[101]
Homo Homini
"registered partnerships" 54% 41% 55% 39% 39% 24% 52% 43% 60%
"same-sex marriages" 27% 68% 27% 69% 21% 24% 38% 57% 41%
"adoption rights" 7% 90% 14% 84% 16% 80% 21%
Acceptance of a homosexual as a... (CBOS, July 2005)[106] Gay (Yes) Gay (No) Lesbian (Yes) Lesbian (No)
Neighbour 56% 38% 54% 40%
Co-worker 45% 50% 42% 53%
Boss 41% 53% 42% 53%
MP 37% 57% 38% 56%
Teacher 19% 77% 21% 75%
Childminder 11% 86% 14% 83%
Priest 13% 82%

Public opinion

Counter-protest at the 2019 Rzeszów equality march: "a fag's place is under the boot!"

Public opinion on same-sex marriage (2023) based on Pew Research Center[107]

  Strongly favor (13%)
  Somewhat favor (28%)
  Not sure (5%)
  Somewhat oppose (18%)
  Strongly oppose (36%)

A GLOBSEC survey conducted in March 2023 showed that 54% of Poles supported LGBT rights, such as same-sex marriage, while 38% were opposed.[108]

According to Polish respondents to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights 2019 EU LGBTI survey II:[109]

According to the survey, Poland has the largest gap between life satisfaction of LGBTI people and the general population.[109]


The parties on the left of the political scene generally approve of the postulates of the gay rights movement and vote in favour of LGBT legislation. The New Left, Modern, Labor United, and Your Movement, are supporters of LGBT rights. More socially right-wing parties, such as PiS, Confederation, Agreement and PSL, are generally against any changes in legislation. Out of these, PiS takes the strongest oppositional stance on homosexual issues.

While the current opposition, the Civic Platform was strongly disapproving towards LGBT legislation when it was the ruling party in Poland, as of late its leaders have started expressing more favourable stances towards the community.[110][111]

In 2013, former President and Nobel prize winner Lech Wałęsa said that gay MPs should sit at the back of the Parliament or even behind a wall and should not have important positions in Parliament. He also said that pride parades should not take place in the city centres, but in the suburbs of cities. The former president also stated that minorities should not impose themselves upon the majority. Wałęsa could not have been accused of inciting to hatred because the Polish Penal Code does not include inciting to hatred against sexual orientation.[28][112][113]

The Council of Europe has highlighted "homophobic statements by leading public figures, creating an atmosphere of hate and intolerance" since 2007. In December 2020, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, stated that she was "deeply concerned about the propagation of negative and inflammatory homophobic narratives by many public officials in Poland, including people in the highest ranks of government... Stigmatisation and hate directed at certain individuals or groups of people carry a real risk of legitimising violence, sometimes with fatal consequences."[114][115]

Law and Justice

After the 2005 elections, the Law and Justice party (PiS) came to power. They formed a coalition government with the League of Polish Families (LPR) and the Self-Defence Party (Samoobrona). The politicians of these parties have often been labelled as "homophobic" by LGBT rights activists, both before and after the 2005 elections.[116] Prominent government figures have made several homophobic and unscientific comments with regards to homosexuality, and have tried to suppress freedom of speech and freedom of assembly for LGBT people:[116]

"Let's not be misled by the brutal propaganda of homosexuals' postures of tolerance. It is a kind of madness, and for that madness, our rule will indeed be for them a dark night"

— Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski, PiS, 3 October 2005[116]

"If a person tries to infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must intervene in this violation of freedom."

— Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, Prime Minister, PiS, 11 May 2006[116]

"If deviants begin to demonstrate, they should be hit with batons."

— Wojciech Wierzejski, LPR, 9 October 2006[116]

On 5 July 2006, Mayor of Warsaw Miroslaw Kochalski stated, in relation to the Parada Równości, that the march was "immoral and a danger to the inhabitants of Warsaw."[116]

On 7 August 2006, Paweł Zyzak, editor in chief of a PiS magazine, Right Turn!, wrote that homosexuals were "animals" and "the emissaries of Satan sent to destroy the Catholic Church".[116]

In the city of Koscierzyna, Waldemar Bonkowski, a leading member of PiS, hung up a banner that read, "Today it’s gays and lesbians – what’s next, zoophilia? Is that liberty and democracy? No, that’s syphilisation! Our Polish pope is looking down from the sky and asking, 'Whither goest thou, Poland?'" on the wall of the local party headquarters.[116]

During the presidential campaign before the 2005 election, Lech Kaczyński, who won the election, stated that he would continue to ban LGBT demonstrations, as he did while Mayor of Warsaw, and that "public promotion of homosexuality will not be allowed".[116]

On 17 March 2008, Kaczyński delivered a presidential address to the nation on public television, in which he described same-sex marriage as an institution contrary to the widely accepted moral order in Poland and the moral beliefs of the majority of the population. The address featured a wedding photograph of an Irish gay rights activist, Brendan Fay and Tom Moulton, which Kaczyński had not sought permission to use. The presidential address outraged left-wing political parties and gay rights activists, who subsequently invited the two to Poland and demanded apologies from the President, which he did not issue.[117]

On 30 August 2006, during a visit to the European Commission, Lech's twin brother, Jarosław Kaczyński, as the Prime Minister of Poland, stated that "people with such preferences have full rights in Poland, there is no tradition in Poland of persecuting such people". He also asked the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso "not to believe in the myth of Poland as an anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic country".[116]

Jarosław Kaczyński has been less harsh in his descriptions of homosexuality. In one interview, he stated that he had always been "in favour of tolerance" and that "the issue of intolerance towards gay people had never been a Polish problem". He said he did not recall gays being persecuted in the Polish People's Republic more severely than other minority groups and acknowledged that many eminent Polish celebrities and public figures of that era were widely known to be homosexual. Jarosław Kaczyński also remarked that there are a lot of gay clubs in Poland and that there is a substantial amount of gay press and literature.[118] In another interview abroad, he invited the interviewer to Warsaw to visit one of the many gay clubs in the capital. He also confirmed that there are some homosexuals in his own party, but said they would rather not open their private lives to the public. This was also confirmed by the Member of the European Parliament from PiS, Tadeusz Cymański.

In a 2009 interview for Gazeta Wyborcza, former Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz stated that his opinion about homosexual people changed when he met a Polish gay emigrant in London. The man stated that he "fled from Poland because he was gay and would not have freedom in his country". Marcinkiewicz concluded that he would not want anyone to flee from Poland.[119]

In a 2015 interview, President-elect, Andrzej Duda, originally from the PiS party, was asked if he would hire a homosexual. He answered that he would not care about personal relationships, as long as the person who was to be hired was not running around half-naked.[120] Andrzej Duda also stated that "matters that are vital for society are not dealt with while others, undoubtedly connected with the leftist ideology, are being pushed forward. They are, in my view, destroying the traditional family which, since the dawn of mankind, has assured its development and endurance."[120]

In November 2018, it was reported that President Andrzej Duda would support a ban on "homosexual propaganda", based on the Russian gay propaganda law. He said: "I think that this kind of propaganda should not take place in schools, it has to be calmly and consistently opposed", and that "[i]f such a law was created and would be well written, I do not exclude that I would approach it seriously." Such a law would violate the Polish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.[121][122]

In November 2018, following government pressure and threats, more than 200 schools cancelled a planned anti-bullying campaign called "Rainbow Friday", which the Campaign Against Homophobia had promoted in hopes of building greater acceptance for LGBT students in Poland and fighting hatred and homophobia in schools. The Minister of Education, Anna Zalewska, had warned that any principals who allowed such events to take place could face negative consequences. She also asked parents to report any such activities to authorities,[123][124] however it was reported that many students defied the ban and turned up to school in rainbow colors regardless, and that many schools also refused to comply with the warnings.[125]

In April 2019, Conservative party chairman Jarosław Kaczyński called the LGBT rights movement a "foreign imported threat to the nation". During a lecture on patriotism, Kaczynski also said "everyone must accept Christianity".[126][127] That same month, after an activist displayed posters of the Black Madonna with a rainbow halo, Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski denounced the posters as "cultural barbarism". The activist was subsequently arrested by the police on charges of "offending religious feelings". Amnesty International condemned the arrest as "just another example of the constant harassment" and said that the activist "now faces up to two years in prison if found guilty under these absurd charges".[128]

In June 2019, the newly appointed Minister of National Education, Dariusz Piontkowski, criticised an LGBT rights declaration that Mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski had signed, saying that it was "an attempt to sexualize children by force" and "raise children who will be given away to pedophiles at some point".[129][130][131][132]

League of Polish Families

In the 2005 election, the League of Polish Families (LPR) won 8% of the vote and 34 seats in the Sejm. They entered into a coalition government with PiS and Samoobrona.[citation needed] On 19 May 2006, Mirosław Orzechowski, Deputy Minister of Education, stated that an international project organized by LGBT NGOs and financially supported by the European Commission Youth Programme would lead to the "depravity of young people".[116] Wojciech Wierzejski was a Member of the European Parliament, and then a Deputy of the Sejm from the League of Polish Families. In June 2005, while in the European Parliament, he called for "no tolerance for homosexuals and deviants".[116]

On 11 May 2006, while an MP, Wierzejski condemned the Warsaw Parada Równości. While condemning the parade, he stated the "deviants" should be "hit with batons". He also commented on the possible presence of German politicians at the parade, saying that "they are not serious politicians, but just gays and a couple of baton strikes will deter them from coming again. Gays are cowards by definition."[116] A day later, he wrote a letter to the Minister of the Interior and Administration and the Minister of Justice, in which he called for law enforcement agencies to check the legal and illegal sources of financing of the organizations of homosexual activists. He accused LGBT organisations of being involved with paedophiles and the illegal drug trade. He also wished to check if homosexual organisations penetrated Polish schools. In response to this, the State Prosecutor ordered all prosecutors to carefully check the financing of LGBT organizations, their alleged connections to criminal movements and their presence in schools.[116] On 2 June 2006, a complaint about Wierzejski's statements had been rejected by the Warsaw district prosecutor, because "the statements cannot be treated as threatening or encouraging to crime".[116]

On 8 June 2006, Roman Giertych, the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland and Minister of Education, dismissed Mirosław Sielatycki, the director of the National In-Service Teacher Training Centre, because "a lot of books were encouraging teachers to organize meetings with LGBT non-governmental organizations such as Campaign Against Homophobia or Lambda" and because "these books were criticising the legal situation in most European countries, including Poland, in relation to non-recognition of gay marriage as being a form of discrimination". The new director of the centre said that "homosexual practices lead to drama, emptiness and degeneracy."[116]

On 21 May 2006, Roman Giertych said that "LGBT organizations are sending transsexuals to kindergartens and asking children to change their sex".[116]

In March 2007, Roman Giertych proposed a bill that would have banned homosexual people from the teaching profession and would also have allowed sacking those teachers who promote "the culture of homosexual lifestyle".[133] At that time, Giertych was the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland and the Minister of Education.[133] The proposition gained a lot of attention in the media and was widely condemned by the European Commission,[134] by Human Rights Watch,[135] as well as by the Union of Polish Teachers, who organized a march through Warsaw (attended by 10,000 people) condemning the Ministry's policy.[136][137] The bill was not voted on, and the Government soon failed, leading to new parliamentary elections in which the League of Polish Families won no parliamentary seats.[138]

In 2007, PBS conducted an opinion poll associated with Roman Giertych's speech at a meeting of EU education ministers in Heidelberg. The pollster asked respondents if they agreed with Minister Giertych's statements:[139]

Civic Platform

In February 2019, Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, member of the Civic Platform, signed a 12-point LGBT declaration. Proposed actions range from providing shelter to LGBT teenagers rejected by their families, the introduction of local crisis intervention helplines, and providing access to anti-discrimination and sex education at city schools.[140][141][142][143]

Your Movement

Your Movement supports LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and civil unions. A prominent party member is gay activist, former member of the Sejm (2011–2014) and former Mayor of Słupsk (2014–2018) Robert Biedroń. He has been described as a young, rising political star in Poland, and is viewed as a frontrunner for the presidency. Former President Aleksander Kwasniewski has urged him to run for president in 2020. Opinion polls currently put him in third place, behind Andrzej Duda and Donald Tusk.[144]

Biedroń has spoken of significant societal change towards homosexuality and LGBT people. He had occasionally been publicly beaten on the streets and insulted, but said in 2018 that residents now smile and greet him. As a mayor, Biedroń marries local couples. "I’m extremely jealous because I see their happiness. I’m 15 years with my partner and it’s still a dream. It’s not fair that in 2018 two adults cannot get married if they love each other and are committed to each other.", he said.[144]


In February 2019, LGBT activist Robert Biedroń launched Spring, a new progressive political party proposing to introduce civil partnerships for opposite-sex and same-sex couples, and the legalisation of same-sex marriage.[145][146] As of August 2019, the party has three MEPs.

"LGBT-free zones"

Main article: LGBT-free zone

Map of Poland, LGBT-free zones declared (as of January 2020) on a voivodeship, powiat or gmina level marked in red.[17][147][148][149]

While ahead of the 2015 Polish parliamentary election, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party took an anti-migrant stance, in the run-up to the 2019 Polish parliamentary election the party has focused on countering Western "LGBT ideology".[17] Several Polish municipalities and four Voivodeships made so-called "LGBT-free zone" declarations, partly in response to the signing of a declaration in support of LGBT rights by Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski.[17][150] While only symbolic, the declared zones signal exclusion of the LGBT community. The right wing Gazeta Polska newspaper issued "LGBT-free zone" stickers to readers.[151] The Polish opposition and diplomats, including US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, condemned the stickers.[152][153] The Warsaw District Court ordered that distribution of the stickers should halt pending the resolution of a court case.[154] However, Gazeta's editor dismissed the ruling saying it was "fake news" and censorship, and that the paper would continue distributing the sticker.[155] Gazeta continued with the distribution of the stickers, but modified the decal to read "LGBT Ideology-Free Zone".[154]

In August 2019, LGBT community members stated that they feel unsafe in Poland. The All Out organization launched a campaign to counter the attacks. Some 10,000 people signed a petition shortly after the campaign launch.[156]

During the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, several LGBT activists began handing out rainbow facemasks within certain of the concerned local government areas as a direct protest of the "LGBT-free zoning".[157]

In July 2020, the town council of Nieuwegein, a Dutch city south of Utrecht, voted to end its friendship with Puławy in eastern Poland, citing "gay free zones" as the reason.[158]

Since July 2020, the European Union has started denying funds to municipalities that adopted "LGBT-free" declarations.[159]

In September 2020, ambassadors from 50 countries stationed in Poland published an open letter "[paying] tribute to the hard work of LGBTI and other communities in Poland and around the world" and calling to "end discrimination in particular on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity".[160][161][162] Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki rejected the call, saying that "tolerance belongs to Polish DNA... Nobody needs to teach us tolerance, because we are a nation that has learned such tolerance for centuries", while senior politician Joachim Brudzinski tweeted that "we are waiting with hope for the next letter, this time in defense of murdered Christians, imprisoned #ProLife activists, people dismissed from work and persecuted for quoting the Bible, [and] people subjected to euthanasia against their will."[163]

According to a December 2020 report by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, "Far from being merely words on paper, these declarations and charters directly impact the lives of LGBTI people in Poland."[114]

LGBT movement and activism

Parada Równości in 2007
Anti-gay protesters at the Warsaw Parada Równości in 2006
The 2018 Kraków Pride parade

Equality marches

Main article: Equality marches in Poland

The largest aspect of the LGBT movement in Poland is the equality parade held in Warsaw every year since 2001.[164]

In 2004 and 2005, Warsaw officials denied permission to organize it, because of various reasons including the likelihood of counter-demonstrations, interference with religious or national holidays, and the lack of a permit.[165] Despite this, about 2,500 people marched illegally on 11 June 2005. Ten people were arrested. The ban has been declared illegal by the Bączkowski v Poland ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in 2007.[166]

The parade was condemned by the Mayor of Warsaw Lech Kaczyński, who said that allowing an official pride event in Warsaw would promote a "homosexual lifestyle".[167]

The Parada Równości events have continued regularly since 2006, attracting crowds of less than 10,000 every year, until 2015 when the parade attracted 18 thousand attendees.[168][169] Since then, attendance has increased dramatically, culminating in the 2018 parade which attracted 45,000 attendees.[170] On 8 June 2019, around 50,000 people marched in the event. Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski participated in the event for the first time and said that he wanted Warsaw to remain "open" and "tolerant."[171]

In 2005, 33% of the Warsaw population were for the organisation of the Parada Równości. In 2008, that figure fell to 25%.[172]

A 2010 opinion poll, conducted by PBS for Gazeta Wyborcza, showed that 45% of Warsaw residents supported the parade.[172]

In recent years, the parade has attracted widespread support from corporations and regional governments. The main partner of the 2018 parade was the regional Government of the Masovian Voivodeship, of which Warsaw is a part.[173]

Public opinion

In a 2014 survey, conducted by CBOS for Dr. Natalia Zimniewicz, 30% of Poles wanted a ban on public promotion of gay content, and 17.3% would not support that ban, but would want another form of limiting the freedom of promotion of such information.[174]

52.5% thought that the current scale of promotion of gay content is excessive, 27.9% thought that pictures of gay parades or practices disgust them, 22.3% thought that the media blur the true image of homosexuality and 29.3% thought that gay content is not a private matter of the homosexual community, but affect children and other citizens.[174]

Summary table

Yes/No Notes
Same-sex sexual activity
Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes Since 1932
Equal age of consent (15) Yes Since 1932
Discrimination laws
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes Since 2003,[175] but not consistently enforced[5]
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Anti-discrimination laws concerning gender identity No
Hate crime laws concerning sexual orientation and gender identity No
Same-sex unions
Same-sex marriages No Since Coman v. Romania (2018), EU countries are required to recognize all marriages performed in other EU countries for some residency purposes.[176]
Civil partnerships No
Recognition of same-sex couples No [177][178]
Adoption and parenting
Adoption by individuals Yes Yes
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No Banned regardless of sexual orientation
Access to IVF for lesbians No Available only for women in heterosexual relationships
Lesbians, gays and bisexuals allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender Yes/No Since 1995. Birth certificates are immutable. Instead, an addendum is appended in the birth certificate wrt. the sex change court order and legal name change.[179]
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes Since 2005[73]

See also


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