U.S. President Donald Trump has congratulated Poland’s ultra-conservative and homophobic President, Andrzej Duda, on his re-election victory this week.
Duda narrowly defeated his rival, centrist Rafal Trzaskowski, to take 51.2% of the vote and be returned to office.
Trump tweeted: “Congratulations to my friend President @AndrzejDuda of Poland on his historic re-election! Looking forward to continuing our important work together across many issues, including defense, trade, energy, and telecommunications security!”
Many observers believe Duda has pushed Poland down an increasingly authoritarian path since taking power in 2015. Groups including Human Rights Watch have criticized the country’s direction and attempts to curb free expression.
During his re-election 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.
Duda’s re-election has been met with dismay by local LGBTQ advocates. Mariusz Kurc, the editor of Poland’s only LGBT magazine, Replika, told Business Insider.
“When the results of the elections came out, I felt fear. It was pure fear that the situation is not going to get any better, the situation is not going to stay as it is, the situation will get worse.”
In late June, just days before Poles went to the polls, Duda became the first world leader to visit the White House since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump subsequently told reporters after the meeting that he was thinking of moving some US troops from Germany to Poland in order to send a message to Russia. There has also been talk of the U.S. helping Poland to build a nuclear power plant.
According to the advocacy group ILGA, Poland is the worst-performing country in Europe when it comes to LGBTQ rights.
Over the past year, around a third of local governments in the country have passed resolutions declaring their regions to be ‘LGBT-free zones’. Adopting the resolution ensures they do not provide funding to nonprofits promoting gay rights.