Polish weekly newspaper Gazeta Polska announced on July 17 that it will give away ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers with its next issue, depicting a black cross over a rainbow. The newspaper is openly supportive of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) and appeals to a conservative, right-wing readership.
The move has caused an understandable outcry, and has been labelled by many as homophobic, intolerant and even Hitler-esque. The deputy mayor of Warsaw, Paweł Rabiej, said that “the German fascists created zones free of Jews”, adding that he would make a complaint to the public prosecutors office.
The US ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher also registered disapproval.
“I am disappointed and concerned that some groups use stickers to promote hatred and intolerance,” she tweeted on July 18. “We respect freedom of speech, but we must stand together on the side of values such as diversity and tolerance.”
Rival newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza came out in support of the LGBT community. “Poland is for all its citizens. No one has the right to designate exclusion zones for any reason. There is no consent for a new apartheid. Defend human and citizen rights.”
Instagram removed Gazeta Polska’s post about the stickers citing it as hate speech, yet the newspaper shows no signs of backing down.
Speaking live on Telewizja Republika the editor of the paper Tomasz Sakiewicz argued: “The symbol of LGBT today is beginning to be associated with what a sickle and hammer or swastika was. Perhaps they are motivated by good intentions. Communists also had good intentions. Very often behind good ideas are good intentions.” He later stated that rather than showing intolerance, the stickers in fact promote tolerance of ‘traditional Polish values’ which are being threatened by the LGBT movement. “This label is a sign of opposition not to specific people, but to a radically leftist ideology reconciling the family and values on which European civilisation has been based for centuries.”
The newspaper, which has a circulation of around 110,000, will hit vendors on July 24.