A wide group of global entertainment figures have signed a letter supporting the Polish LGBT+ community in the face of growing controversy in the country.
On Tuesday, the government stepped in to support the Polish town of Tuchow, which recently lost financial support from the EU after it set up a ‘LGBT-free’ zone. The authorities said they were “supporting a municipality that has a pro-family agenda”; the decision has provoked angry responses around the world. On August 8, authorities detained 48 people at a reportedly peaceful pro-LGBT+ protest.
The responses now include an open letter signed by a cross-section of notable figures from film, literature and further afield, including the Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodóvar and Oscar-nominated Luca Guadagnino, the Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk, The Handmaid’s Tale writer Margaret Atwood, and Polish filmmakers Agnieszka Holland and Jan Komasa.
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The letter, published on the website wyborcza.pl, states that homophobia in Poland is growing because of the incumbent socially conservative government, which it claims is using LGBT+ groups as a “scapegoat”. The letter is addressed to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and calls on the organization to step in and “defend core European values” of “equality, non-discrimination, respect for minorities” which it says are being “blatantly violated in Poland”.
You can read the full letter and see the signatories below.
Dear Dr. von der Leyen:
We, the undersigned, express our outrage at repressions directed against the LGBT+ community in Poland. We speak out in solidarity with activists and their allies, who are being detained, brutalized, and intimidated. We voice our grave concern about the future of democracy in Poland, a country with an admirable history of resistance to totalitarianism and struggle for freedom.
On Friday, 7 August 2020, 48 persons were arrested in Warsaw – in some cases quite brutally – and detained on the grounds that they had participated in a violent illegal gathering. In fact, they were engaged in a peaceful protest in solidarity with an LGBT+ activist named Margot, who had been arrested for damaging a homophobic campaigner’s van. Her group had also placed rainbow flags over statues, including a statue of Christ. These actions were neither “hooliganism” nor “provocations,” as Poland’s government-run media insist, but rather desperate acts of resistance against degrading homophobic hate speech. The van is one of many similar vehicles parading outrageous claims around the cities of Poland: equating homosexuality with pedophilia, and asserting that gays are the source of diseases and a threat to children. Efforts to stop this well-funded hate campaign by legal means had led to nothing.
The broader context is the persistent use of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric by Polish politicians and media, attacks against “LGBT ideology” in the recent presidential campaign, preceded by the emergence in many municipalities and districts of “zones free of LGBT ideology,” allegedly defending the safety of families and children, and last year’s violent attacks against Equality March in Białystok. Homophobic aggression in Poland is growing because it is condoned by the ruling party, which has chosen sexual minorities as a scapegoat with no regard for the safety and well-being of citizens. Margot is, in fact, a political prisoner, held captive for her refusal to accept indignity.
We call on the Polish government to stop targeting sexual minorities, to stop supporting organizations that spread homophobia and to hold accountable those who are responsible for unlawful and violent arrests of August 7, 2020.
We call on the European Commission to take immediate steps to defend core European values – equality, non-discrimination, respect for minorities – which are being blatantly violated in Poland. LGBT+ rights are human rights and must be defended as such.
Naja Marie Aidt, writer, Danish language
Pedro Almodóvar, film director, Spain
Jakuta Alikavazovic, writer, France
Margaret Atwood, writer, Canada
Paul Auster, writer, USA
John Banville, writer, Ireland
Sebastian Barry, writer, Ireland
Judith Butler, philosopher, USA
Sophie Calle, writer and artist, France
John Maxwell Coetzee, writer, South Africa
Isabel Coixet, director, Spain
Stephen Daldry, director, UK
Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, writer, France
Lucas Dhont, director, Belgium
Marion Döring, director of European Film Academy
Cynthia Enloe, political scientist, USA
Anne Enright, writer, Ireland
Ildiko Enyedi, director, Hungary
Richard Flanagan, writer, Australia
Barbara Frey, theatre and opera director, Switzerland/Austria
Timothy Garton Ash, historian, UK
Agnieszka Graff, americanist, Poland
Luca Guadagnino, director, Italy
Miron Hackenbeck, dramaturg, Germany
Ed Harris, actor, director USA
Aleksander Hemon, writer, Bosnia/USA
Agnieszka Holland, director, Poland
Siri Hustvedt, writer, USA
Isabelle Huppert, actress, France
Aki Kaurismäki, director, Finland
Padraic Kenney, historian, USA
Jan Komasa, director, Poland
Ivan Krastev, political scientist, Bulgaria
Jan Kubik, political scientist, UK
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, choreographer, Belgium
Yorgos Lanthimos, director, Greece
Andrzej Leder, philosopher, Poland
Jacek Leociak, historian, Poland
Jonathan Littell, writer, France
Mike Leigh, director, UK
Deborah Levi, writer, UK
Edouard Louis, writer, France
Sergei Loznitsa, director, Germany/Ukraine
Valeria Luiselli, writer, USA
Dorota Masłowska, writer, Poland
Hisham Matar, writer, USA
Ulrich Matthes, actor, Germany
Ian McEwan, writer, UK
Lina Meruane, writer, Chile
Teona Mitevska, director, North Macedonia
Chantal Mouffe, philosopher, Belgium
James Norton, actor, UK
Claus Offe, sociologist, Germany
Paweł Pawlikowski, director, Poland
Richard Powers, writer, USA
Axel Ranisch, filmmaker and opera director, Germany
Keith Ridgway, writer, Ireland
Philippe Sands, lawyer and writer, UK
Volker Schlöndorff, director, Germany
Marci Shore, historian, USA
Stellan Skarsgaard, actor, Sweden
Leila Slimani, writer, France
Timothy Snyder, historian, USA
Johanna ter Steege, actress, the Netherlands
Dariusz Stola, historian, Poland
Małgorzata Szczęśniak, stage designer, Poland
Małgorzata Szumowska, director, Poland
Colm Toibin, writer, Ireland
Olga Tokarczuk, writer, Poland
Alia Trabucco Zerán, writer, Chile
Fien Troch, director, Belgium
Jan Vandenhouwe, artistic director and opera dramaturg, Belgium
Krzysztof Warlikowski, theater director, Poland/France
Beau Willimon, playwright, screenwriter, USA
Adam Zagajewski, poet, Poland
Slavoj Žižek, philosopher, Slovenia
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