European elections: sex and religion dominate campaigning in Poland (The Guardian)

Photograph: Grzegorz Żukowski via Flickr

Campaigning in Poland for the European elections has descended into a war of words over religion, sex and morality after a documentary on clerical abuse raised questions about the government’s ties to the Catholic church and the ruling party campaign sought to portray LGBT rights supporters as a threat to children.

The release on YouTube earlier this month of the documentary, viewed more than 20m times and featuring several victims confronting their sexual abusers, electrified what had already been a febrile debate over the role of the powerful Roman Catholic church in Polish politics and society, during which homosexuality has regularly been equated with paedophilia.

LGBT rights and a perceived threat to traditional values have been front and centre of the campaign since it began in early March, when Rafał Trzaskowski, the recently elected liberal mayor of Warsaw, unveiled a series of commitments to uphold minority rights and support sexual education for young people.

In response, Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS), gave a speech to party activists in which he warned advocates of same-sex marriage and adoption to “keep your hands off our children”, and PiS politicians accused the opposition European Coalition of promoting the “sexualisation” of young people.

You can read my report for the Guardian here.

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