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social sciences

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Despite social disapproval, a network of cafés, pissoirs, and street cruising provided opportunities for a gay subculture to grow. A 1981 article in the prominent weekly Polityka set off a national discussion on homosexuality.

Beginning in 1986, the underground gay newspaper Filo from Gdansk was distributed in editions of less than 100. In addition, the gay poet Grzegorz Musial was officially published. However, Jerzy Andrzejewski's last novel Miazga (Pulp), which dealt with homosexuality, could be published only abroad in its uncensored version.

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The Communist government used traditionally negative attitudes toward homosexuality as a way of blackmailing homosexuals and the police felt free to harass gay men and lesbians. This activity culminated in the 1985 "Operation Hyacinth," which led to the arrest of many gay men.

The Gay Movement

Since 1989, a public gay movement has developed. Warsaw is the center of Polish gay life with bars and baths, in addition to the cruising areas mentioned earlier. Cracow, Gdansk, Poznan, and Wroclaw also have gay commercial infrastructures, as well as gay organizations.

Lamba, a gay umbrella organisation, was legally registered in 1990. The abolition of censorship saw a wave of gay periodicals, such as Inaczej (Poznan), but this quick efflorescence has now been reduced to the commercially successful and sex positive Nowy Men (New Men).

The first Gay Pride Parade took place in Warsaw in 1995. In 1996, the Lesbian Information and Counseling Center was established.

AIDS in Poland results primarily from drug injection, although it has touched the gay community. For example, in 1995, an exhibition on "I and AIDS" was organised in Warsaw and featured the work of the openly gay artist Andrzej Karas. Swedish, Canadian, and German groups have actively aided the anti-AIDS campaign in Poland.

The 1997 constitution bans discrimination "on any grounds," although the Roman Catholic hierarchy prevented specific protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In addition, the constitution limits marriage to heterosexuals.

Opinion polls consistently show that 70 to 80 per cent of Poles despise homosexuals. The Campaign against has featured controversial posters to challenge viewers' assumptions.

There is no distinct lesbian movement, but secular women's organizations are supportive of homosexual causes.

Although the foundation for a gay and lesbian community has been laid and the legal framework is favorable to gay life, the Roman Catholic Church encourages public anti-gay attitudes so the lives of individual gay men and lesbians continue to be difficult.

John D. Stanley

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social sciences >> Overview:  Nazism and the Holocaust

As part of its agenda to preserve an "Aryan master race," Nazism persecuted homosexuals as "asocial parasites"; more than 100,000 men were arrested on homosexual charges during the Nazi years, with 5,000-15,000 gay men incarcerated in concentration camps.

social sciences >> Overview:  Roman Catholicism

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church may be the institution most responsible for the suffering of individuals involved in same-sex sexual relationships.

social sciences >> Overview:  Serbia

Although there now exists an active glbtq rights movement in Serbia, the atmosphere for glbtq citizens is one of hostility.

social sciences >> Overview:  Warsaw

Despite the now favorable legal situation, the Roman Catholic opposition to gay rights shapes national attitudes in Poland, holding back the progress of Warsaw's gay and lesbian community; and most of Warsaw's gays and lesbians are still in the closet.

social sciences >> Napoleonic Code

Although the Napoleonic Code is sometimes said to have decriminalized homosexuality in France, that distinction belongs to the French Revolution.

arts >> Szymanowski, Karol Maciej

Revered as the father of Polish contemporary classical music, Karol Szymanowski unequivocally expresses homoeroticism in his music.


Boczkowski, Krzysztof. Homoseksualizm. Warsaw: Panstwowy Zaklad Wydawnictw Lekarskich, 1992.

Leszkowicz, Pawel. "Poland: The Shock of the Homoerotic." The Gay & Lesbian Review 10.3 (May-June 2003): 19-21.

Pietkiewicz, Barbara. "Gorzki fiolet." Polityka no. 8 (1251) (February 21, 1981): 8.

Selerowicz, Andrzej. Leksykon kochajacych inaczej. Poznan: Softpress, 1994.

Stanley, John. "Poland, A Recollection." The Body Politic (December 1984): 27-29.


    Citation Information
    Author: Stanley, John D.  
    Entry Title: Poland  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated August 26, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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