At a protest against violence against LGBTQ people in Warsaw, Poland, July 2019
Kacper Pempel / Reuters

Since the mid-1990s, things had seemed to be changing for the better for sexual minorities in Poland. The first openly gay and transgender politicians were elected to office; mainstream films and novels began to represent LGBTQ characters in a positive light; and in 2001, the country’s first pride march was held in Warsaw, after which these marches spread into provincial cities. In an opinion poll conducted in February 2019, more than 50 percent of Poles expressed support for same-sex civil unions. When I left Poland 15 years ago, such developments had still been unthinkable. As an émigré, I watched my country from across the Atlantic with surprised appreciation.

But even as the Polish LGBTQ community was celebrating the February 2019 poll results, the tide was turning back against them. Their situation had been worsening, with increasing inevitability, since Poland’s current right-wing government came into power in 2015. Since this spring, anti-LGBTQ sentiments have

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