Three left-leaning Polish political parties announced their coalition’s acceptance of Robert Biedron as their presidential candidate yesterday, making him the first openly LGBTQ person up for the position. Biedron, a Polish representative in the European Parliament, has long advocated for LGBTQ rights in the country. His candidacy forms part of the opposition to incumbent right-wing president, Andrzej Duda, whose platform includes blocking LGBTQ rights-focused laws. The election will take place this coming May.
LGBTQ people in Poland face discrimination, homophobia and transphobia fueled by Law and Justice, Duda’s political party. A multitude of cities and regions’ officials have declared their localities as “LGBT-ideology free” zones. When 25 people were arrested at last year’s Pride Parade in Bialystok, the Law and Justice Party derided them as a threat to Polish identity and family values.
Biedron has been influential in the fight against the tide of homophobia and in fostering LGBTQ+ acceptance in Poland. Before ever entering office, he helped found the Campaign Against Homophobia and received several commendations for his advocacy work for the community. In 2014, he became Poland’s first openly gay mayor, and later created the left-wing Spring Party on a platform including equality, women’s rights and the legalization of same-gender marriage. Following his election, he called for other LGBTQ candidates to come out, and almost 20 candidates made their LGBTQ identities public before local elections. He now serves as a Polish representative in the European Parliament as a member of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.
Last year, Biedron joined us at the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference 2019, where he spoke on the “God and Politics: Fundamentalists on the March” panel regarding global religious conservative movements opposed to rights for LGBTI people, women and religious minorities. He shared his perspective on the rise of these movements in Europe and particularly in Poland, and commented on their push to ban abortion. The panel addressed the fundamentals of how these movements work, a necessity for attendees looking to run for office and bolster the rights and freedoms of marginalized communities. This panel, among many others presented at the conference, aimed to help LGBTQ leaders successfully prepare for and navigate the opposition these movements may pose.
Victory Institute partners with local programs around the world to train global leaders in a similar manner, helping LGBTI advocates like Biedron safely and effectively create international change. Through these trainings, we can help leaders advance visibility and institutional equality around the globe.