President Trump on Wednesday met with the anti-LGBTQ president of Poland at the White House.
Two senior administration officials who briefed reporters on Tuesday said NATO and economic ties between Poland and the U.S. were among the topics that Trump and Andrzej Duda planned to discuss.
Duda is the first head of state the White House has hosted since the coronavirus pandemic began. Trump on Wednesday described Duda as a “friend” before they met in the Oval Office.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been closer to Poland than we are right now,” said Trump before their meeting. “And we’re going to have a very important meeting on economic development, military and other things.”
Duda met with Trump ahead of Poland’s June 28 presidential election. The meeting also sparked condemnation from the Human Rights Campaign and Kampania Przeciw Homofobii (Campaign Against Homophobia), a Polish LGBTQ advocacy group.
“I don’t care if they are going to talk about the army or electricity or whatever,” Justyna Nakielska of Kampania Przeciw Homofobii told the Washington Blade on Wednesday during a WhatsApp interview from Warsaw, the Polish capital. “For me it sends a strong symbolic message and (a) practical (one) as well that each other supports the homophobic rhetoric of one another.”
Nakielska spoke with the Blade hours before Duda met with Trump.
She noted Duda earlier this month said LGBTQ “ideology” is more harmful than communism.
Nakielska told the Blade that Duda’s Law and Justice party ahead of last October’s parliamentary elections noted that LGBTQ Poles, among other things “want to sexualize children” and “are a threat to the family.” Nakielska also told the Blade that anti-LGBTQ groups began to lobby local governments to enact homophobic and transphobic resolutions.
“It was an incredible, horrifying moment from the people in power,” said Nakielska. “Everybody could hear all these cruelties, absolutely horrifying words about the LGBT community and they started to give symbolic permission to treat LGBT people with aggression.”
Nakielska said this rhetoric prompted more anti-LGBTQ attacks and hate speech in Poland and caused suicide rates among LGBTQ teenagers to increase. Nakielska also noted a pro-government magazine last summer distributed “LGBT-free zone” stickers.
“All that together created this strong anti-LGBT atmosphere in Poland,” said Nakielska.
The Human Rights Campaign on Monday referenced Kampania Przeciw Homofobii in a press release in which it condemned Duda’s visit to the White House.
“President Andrzej Duda’s visit to the White House on the eve of Poland’s upcoming presidential election is a clear and unambiguous attempt to leverage Trump’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the Polish elections,” HRC President Alphonso David. “Rather than offering up effective solutions to the challenges facing Poland, especially during the global COVID-19 crisis, Duda is attempting to shore up his base by running on a virulently anti-LGBTQ platform. It is a vile, manipulative and dangerous election tactic that threatens the lives, freedom and dignity of LGBTQ people in Poland.”
“By supporting Duda in advancing an anti-LGBTQ platform, President Trump, once again, shows that he is no friend to the LGBTQ community — in the U.S. or abroad,” added David. “And we will hold him accountable this November.”
The White House on Wednesday did not respond to the Blade’s question about HRC’s criticism of the meeting.