One of the strongest pillars of the Polish government’s propaganda machine, the weekly magazine Gazeta Polska, got carried away and seems to have demonstrated the true identity and aspirations of the Catholic fundamentalist right currently in power. The outlet announced on social media that they will soon be giving out stickers with a crossed out rainbow on them and the phrase: “LGBT-free zone”.
The masks have dropped: Dr Goebbels, the infamous Nazi propagandist-in-chief of the Third Reich must be cheering in his grave. The most recent instigation by Gazeta Polska (Polish Gazette) smells of hitlerite intention.
— Gazeta Polska (@GPtygodnik) July 17, 2019
The weekly announced their idea on Twitter and Facebook and received an immediate wave of indignation. Almost all of the criticism, indicates that Gazeta Polska’s actions are a clear reference to the propaganda model installed in Poland during the years of the Nazi occupation, when buses and squares were marked with signs reading ‘Nur für Deutsche’ (only for Germans) or ‘Diese Stadt ist Judenfrei’ (this city is Jew-free). The reference (inspiration?) is so obvious that even most right-wing journalists, opinion makers, and politicians reacted negatively to the announcement of this horrifying campaign. Even some big Catholic outlets, like Tygodnik Powszechny (Popular Weekly), have expressed criticism: “Has anyone on the editorial board heard of the Nazis?” TP’s Kalina Błażejewska asked on Twitter.
The incentive and encouragement to establish LGBT-free zones is a shocking concept and another horrifying attempt to push the boundaries of acceptable activities and statements in the public sphere. And the bar in Poland is already very low.
Apart from the fact that establishing such zones would blatantly violate Polish law, it is also an open signal encouraging and legitimizing discrimination and homophobic violence in political and everyday culture. The question arises as to how this ‘freedom’ from LGBT individuals will be enforced by those controlling such ‘zones’? There are no tests for sexual orientation or gender identity, so admission bans will certainly be discretionary decisions based on premises such as appearance.
The right-wing politician and the vice-president of Warsaw, Paweł Rabiej, said that he would report Gazeta Polska’s idea to the prosecutor’s office. He wrote on Twitter: “Tomorrow I will take a delegation to the prosecutor’s office. The German fascists created zones free of Jews. South African Apartheid – from black South Africans. As you can see, this tradition finds willing followers, this time in Poland, under the umbrella of Law and Justice and the Church bishops.” The Polish right-wing portal wPolityce, known for its general sympathy towards all kinds of right-wing hate campaigns and rascals, called Rabiej’s comparison “hurtful” for the initiators of the action.
The response of the social democratic Razem party is also worth noting. On their Twitter account they condemned the idea as “disgusting” and recalled the fabricated “Sharia zones” and “no-go zones” that were haunted by the same right-wing extremists that now intend to really create such zones: “Can you remember how the right haunted the so-called ‘no-go zones’? Thanks to the same right, we now have our own no-go zones. Disgusting,” the post reads.
The situation is getting increasingly dangerous in Poland.
The government and its media empire constantly encourage aggressive witch hunts and build up all kinds of antagonisms and hatred: against migrants, Muslims, Russians, the EU, socialists, liberals and of course the LGBT community. Gazeta Polska’s action is yet another outrage which the ruling Catholic-extremist Law and Justice party’s propaganda apparatus produced and injects into the public sphere for illegitimate debate. This time it’s a blatant cheap copy of a Nazi scheme. What comes next?
Bulgarian and Polish activist, journalist, editor, publisher and translator. In the late `90 active in the Polish left and later in the labor movement, particularly the biggest Polish labor confederation — The All-Poland Trade Union Alliance. Until 2012 editor-in-chief of its weekly magazine. Contributor at Baricada.org and Strajk.eu, Polish correspondent for the Bulgarian National Radio.
Currently working as an editor and journalist for the Polish labor portal Strike and as a correspondent to the Bulgarian National Radio in Poland.