Statement on the Situation in Poland
LGBTI+ People of Faith Oppose Polish Proposal for “Reparative Therapy Clinics”
The European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups and Global Interfaith Network for People of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expression are deeply outraged to find that the Episcopal Conference of Poland, gathering all Roman Catholic bishops of that country, has issued a paper on 28 August 2020 which states the necessity to create “clinics to help people seeking to restore their […] natural sexual orientation.” They also deeply regret the Polish Government endorsing such a proposal, as Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated when he took questions from Radio Rodzina, quoted in the Polish newspaper Gazeta on 29 August 2020.
Worrying Developments in Poland
Over a period of some years, Polish society has seen an increase in narratives that condemn homosexuality and transgender identities as unnatural and in opposition to the so-called “traditional values” of Polish society. In recent presidential elections, the candidate already in office, Andrzej Duda, claimed LGBTI+ people are “not people but an ideology”, thus objectifying and dehumanizing them. Duda won the elections, albeit with a very small majority. The decision of the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, to endorse the proposal of the Episcopal Conference of Poland to create reparative therapy clinics, takes the agenda of the already LGBTI+ phobic government one step further: words are put into action. The European Forum and GIN-SSOGIE are deeply disturbed by these developments, which they view as being totally out of step with widely accepted academic research as well as the positive stance of the World Health Organization towards LGBTI+ people and the recent findings of the UN Independent Expert on SOGI. The proposal is also out of step with European Union policies, which seek to improve the rights of LGBTI+ people within its member states.
Cruelty of Reparative Therapy
The European Forum and GIN-SSOGIE are shocked to discover that the Episcopal Conference of Poland wishes to create reparative therapy “clinics to help people seeking to restore their […] natural sexual orientation.” This type of therapy lacks support from the medical field, including psychiatrists and psychologists, and has proven harmful to many, both mentally, physically and also spiritually. In many countries, this therapy or practice is therefore rightfully criticized and even illegal. The European Forum and GIN-SSOGIE are greatly surprised to see the Polish Roman Catholic bishops align sexual orientation and gender identity with physical gender, thereby locating sexuality and gender identity in biology. Theologically speaking, this conviction completely overlooks that all human beings are first and foremost created in the image of God, a theological concept which views human sexuality and gender identity as existing and extending well beyond the limitations of physical appearance. The European Forum and GIN-SSOGIE are happy to see that the Polish Roman Catholic Bishops condemn any violence against LGBTI+ people, but they clearly appreciate neither the violence of the position they have taken on sexual orientation and gender identity, nor the inherent cruelty attached to practices such as reparative or conversion therapy. The European Forum and GIN-SSOGIE are especially concerned with the safety of transgender people as the Episcopal statement among other things denies transgender people their identity by forcing them to return to their so-called “deadname” should they wish to be baptized.
Appeal to Bishops and Government
The European Forum and GIN-SSOGIE strongly condemn the paper issued by the Episcopal Conference of Poland on 28 August 2020 and appeal to them to withdraw this document. Both organizations also advise the bishops to enter into an open and unconditional dialogue with LGBTI+ people (of faith) and their allies, and to listen to their lived experiences as LGBTI+ people of faith, many of whom are loyal and devoted members of the Roman Catholic Church. The European Forum and GIN-SSOGIE appeal to the Polish government to end its LGBTI+ phobic narratives with immediate effect, to withdraw its endorsement for the creation of reparative therapy clinics and to execute policies supported by the European Union to improve the rights of LGBTI+ people in seeking justice and equality for all.
The European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups is an ecumenical association of LGBT Christian groups in Europe, founded in 1982. The European Forum aims to achieve equality and inclusion for LGBTI+ people within and through Christian churches and other religious bodies and multilateral organisations. With over 40 member groups from more than 20 countries in Europe, the European Forum works for freedom of religion for LGBTI+ people, for human rights, for the dignity of LGBTI+ people and for an affirmative discourse on human sexuality.
Global Interfaith Network for People of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expression is a member-led organisation including 450+ members around the world and across faith traditions. It is anchored in the Global South and committed to using the beliefs and traditions of its members to ensure that the views, values and rights of people of all sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions are recognised, respected, and valued.
 See the latest report of the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and its Key Findings on the harmful impact of conversion therapy practices.