speaking out

Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski slams Poland’s “absurd” LGBTQ crackdown

 

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Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski has spoken out about the worsening situation facing the LGBTQ community in Poland.

Porowski, who was born in Canada, has Polish parents and was raised speaking Polish in his Montreal childhood home.

Speaking to promote a petition from advocacy group AllOut, Porowski called the LGBTQ crackdown “absurd.”

Talking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, he said, “If Poland wants to be part of the EU, then they have to behave accordingly. To have its own people excluding its own population, it seems so absurd and counterintuitive to Polish history.”

Related: British ambassador to Poland wears rainbow face mask for LGBTQ rights

In recent months, Poland has received international criticism for the increasingly anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from some of its conservative MPs. Same-sex marriage is not allowed and there is a lack of anti-discrimination laws.

Local lawmakers recently also allowed regions to declare themselves as “LGBT-free zones”: a move widely condemned by other European countries. Despite the condemnation, around 100 municipalities in the country (a third of the total) have adopted the LGBT-free zone status.

In July, President Andrzej Duda (of PiS) was re-elected to office. As part of his campaign, Duda made a range of anti-LGBTQ statements. He signed an election pledge promising that if re-elected, he would ensure gay people could not marry or adopt children. He would also ban the teaching of LGBTQ issues in schools and called LGBTQ rights an “ideology” worse than communism.

Last month, during Duda’s swearing-in ceremony, some Polish MP dressed in rainbow colors to protest against his anti-LGBTQ stance.

Last week, EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said in her State of the Union speech, “LGBTQI free zones are humanity free zones and have no place in our union.”

Her words were echoed Sunday by US Presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Re-tweeting a link to von der Leyen’s words, Biden said, ‘Let me be clear: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights — and “LGBT-free zones” have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world.’

Porowski, 36, went on to say that he hadn’t always been proud of his ancestry. He briefly considered changing his surname when working in New York City but says his father would have been heartbroken.

He says he felt moved to speak up about the situation in Poland after hearing of Pride attendees in Poland having rocks thrown at them.

“I feel like I have a responsibility.”

“When you hear personal stories like that, it makes it a lot more difficult for me personally to turn a blind eye, and that’s where you feel like you have to do something.”

Related: Trump to roll out red carpet for Poland’s notoriously homophobic President

Yesterday, AllOut and Polish group KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) delivered a petition of 330,000 signatures to the European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli. It demands the EU take more decisive action against Poland’s so-called LGBT-free zones. Afterward, the group projected the words ‘Stop LGBT free zones in Poland now’ on to the building of the EU commission in Brussels, Belgium.