Gays, Poles and Polls

July 31, 2009

I don’t like giving my own opinions in discussions because I think that a.) it shouldn’t matter, b.) my private opinions are my private business, c.) people should be able to discuss a point without converting others to a kind of thinking, d.) they also should be able to approach a topic in an impartial manner no matter their own or others’ private opinions.

That doesn’t work. If I don’t say what I think people are going to ascribe certain opinions to me and then argue with me against what they think I think.

So OK, to avoid confusion: I don’t mind pride parades. I think that gays, and all other people, should be allowed to voice their opinions in any manner they wish. I don’t like parades as such so I never join them. I don’t go to the feminist Manifas either, and I wouldn’t go to any other unless Poland is hijacked by some evil country and it’d be for its independence and against that country. Parades, in my view, are organised ‘against’ rather than ‘for’.

I don’t think that I’m alone in my view for the reasons stated in my previous post. I think that Poles, in general, don’t like parades because they have bad experiences. I never feel like “Hurray” about a parade. Rather it’s something like “Oh no, let’s avoid that part of town today”. It’s when they close the streets and you can’t get anywhere.

However, no matter whether I’m right or wrong in my assumption about the reason why Poles don’t like parades, one thing is certain: they really don’t like pride parades. And if I wrote about it it was not to discourage people from the parades in general, only to look for causes.

The attitude of Poles to gays is very bad. However, they mind the parades much more than they mind gays themselves, and that’s what I think deserves some thought if the gay movement is to achieve anything.

For the purpose of this post some terms should be defined:

Tolerance – to Poles it doesn’t mean approval. It means that they don’t like something but they are going to tolerate it. I.e. as long as you leave me alone I’ll leave you alone too.

Acceptation – is a full recognition of something as equally good even though it’s not what one chooses for oneself.

In this vein some Poles only tolerate other religions, by giving them equal rights and not showing them any interest, while others show full acceptance, i.e. Catholics and Muslims praying together in the intention of Islam, Catholics renovating old Jewish cemeteries, or Catholics and Greek-Orthodox believers blessing Easter eggs together.

The vast majority of Poles don’t accept gay relationships, but many more are ready to tolerate them. However, the situation doesn’t seem to be improving, but rather changes for the worse.

Gay Marriage

2001 July 2005 Nov 2005 2008 2009
Yes 24% 22% 21% 18% 14%
No 69% 72% 70% 76% 75%

Gay Civil Union

Shared property, inheritance laws, one’s right to decide about their partner’s health etc.

2001 2003 July 2005
Yes 58% 55% 53%
No 31% 33% 36%

As above plus tax benefits

2001 2003* July 2005 Nov 2005 2008 2009
Yes 45% 47% 46% 42% 41% 25%
No 44% 42% 44% 47% 48% 62%

* Gay Civil Union legislation as proposed in Sejm in 2003: Yes 34%; No 56%

As above plus children adoption

2001 2003 July 2005 Nov 2005 2008 2009
Yes 8% 8% 6% 9% 6% 5%
No 84% 84% 90% 84% 90% 87%

Tolerance

2001 July 2005 2008
Homosexuality is a norm 5% 4% 8%
Homosexuality isn’t a norm but should be tolerated 47% 55% 52%
Homosexuality isn’t a norm and shouldn’t be tolerated 41% 34% 31%
Tolerance and acceptance together 52% 59% 60%

Parades

July 2005 Dec 2005* 2008
Yes 20% 33% 27%
No 74% 58% 66%

*54% agreed that the abolition of pride parade in Poznań was appropriate, 35% was of the opposite opinion

Gay Life Style Manifestation in Public

July 2005 2008
Yes 16% 25%
No 78% 69%

Any sympathy from people the parades received was due to their being abolished in Kraków, Warsaw and Poznań in 2005. It doesn’t mean that more people really likes them, rather that they think that they should be allowed as a matter of freedom of speech.

At the same time, the growing tolerance isn’t this kind of tolerance as in Holand for example, because while 60% of Poles are ready to tolerate gays, at the same time only 37% think that gays should be allowed to have sex!

Their tolerance is in accord with the teaching of the Catholic Church, and has close to nothing to do with the efforts of gay organisations in Poland:

Chastity and homosexuality from the Catholic Catechism

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

All that I can see is that back in April 2001 (before any parade) 58% of people were ready to accept gay civil unions, and 45% accepted such unions with tax benefits, while today the number is 25%. Nothing that is really important for gays improved, on the contrary, things get worse. So what I wanted to say is that perhaps, if people say over and over that they don’t like the parades, keeping them is not the best means of promotion.

Of course it is just one of many things that may be the cause. Gays too aren’t tolerant towards Catholics, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the number of their enemies grows. And, naturally, many people simply wouldn’t accept any public appearance of gays. But, to be sure, not all of the people who don’t like parades are even Catholics, and as many as 50% of those who personally know gays and would give them various rights still oppose the parades. And, the vast majority of gays in Poland don’t even join them.

Yet, it is in gays’ best interest to meet with people. Only 15% of Poles says they know a homosexual person. Will the parades help change the situation?

Sources:

CBOS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

GfK Polonia 1, 2

9 Responses to “Gays, Poles and Polls”

  1. mochafueled said

    As always you do put the light on little known areas of Polish culture. Thank you. I worked in San Francisco for many years and sort of became numb to the gay culture. Though I do remember the first time I stumbled across the end the pride parade in New York City… had to pick my jaw off the ground. But alas parades as you say can mostly be annoying do to road closures and the like. But also have fond memories as a child marching in many a parade in my home town.

    But as you say I think it is important to share views and ideas. I think we can learn from public discussion and the area of popular or unpopular ideas. The problem is passion… many people (or cultures) argue for arguing sake or take it as personal affront (if you are commenting on particular aspect of culture). So in order to have an open and meaningful discussion all parties should know the rules. I think the Greeks called it the art of rhetoric… that was one method of learning… the great debates.

    Thanks for adding to the great debates with your good social commentary.

    • Sylwia said

      Thank you!

      Yes, I’m not against the promotion of gays or gay life style, only I think that their chosen way is not the most fortunate for Poland, which brings them more troubles than positive effects. I hope that criticising the parades won’t be read as criticising the people.

      Actually, some time ago I read some post in the Polish net where the Polish gays wondered themselves whether it’s the best way of promotion or something should be changed.

      I know a gay couple in Warsaw, who live openly together, but don’t go to the parades either. So it’s not just that only non-gays don’t like them.

      I think that Polish kids have best memories from what we call “festyn”. It’s a kind of public party in a park or in a market square, with concerts, theatricals, sweets etc.

      A friend of mine said that there are no market squares in the US. Perhaps that’s why parades are held instead, because there’s no common public space to organise a “festyn”?

      Anyway, I think it’s a conflict of customs, or of how we are used to adapt space for public events. It’s not related to gays specifically. Simply we’re more festyn oriented people than parade ones, while parades hold additional, often negative, associations.

    • Sylwia said

      I should add one thing. One of the troubles in communication is that gays’ problems in the West aren’t the same as in Poland, and so the ways to deal with them should differ too.

      Until recently the Western countries used to be very intolerant of gays, with severe laws against homosexuality. No Polish government ever, either in the Early Modern period or in the 20th century, criminalised homosexuality. Homosexual acts were seen as sinful, but not criminal. Gays in the West had to fight for their right to exist, and when that was achieved they began to fight for the right to marry, serve as soldiers etc. In Poland they fight for having their unions recognised, but many other problems are non issue. It’s fine for a Pole to be gay, a gay soldier or even a gay prostitute. A gay person may live with a same-sex partner or adopt a child. It’s all legal.

      That leads to a situation when Poles don’t understand what’s the gays’ problem at all, since there are no laws discriminating against homosexuality. Gays’ lobbying is not about removing any bad laws, but granting new ones that would give them privileges (lower taxes etc), and that’s why I think they need to promote themselves to make people like them, rather than put themselves in the opposition to the society. Parades are seen either as a kind of protest or show of power, and that creates a situation when the society doesn’t understand why the gays protest against it or why they bring the entire European Union to stand behind them, which in Poland is still seen as a kind of treachery, because it looks as if some Poles asked other countries to intervene in Poland’s internal politics, and that again is seen as the typical Western hypocrisy, coming from people who couldn’t deal with much more serious problems in their own societies but once they did they feel all self-righteous and ready to teach us. It’s simply too heavy a gun to shoot a fly.

  2. island1 said

    Bloody ‘ell, now I have a statistics headache.

    This is a very interesting point of view: “I don’t like giving my own opinions in discussions because I think that a.) it shouldn’t matter, b.) my private opinions are my private business, c.) people should be able to discuss a point without converting others to a kind of thinking”

    Is this common Polish thinking? For me exactly the opposite is true.

    • Sylwia said

      Is it common? I think it is. You might have noticed that Poles can hold heated conversations for a couple of hours and then stop them abruptly. It’s the moment when they see that everything was said, but they’re not succeeding in changing the other’s mind anyway. Then they stop and go home, often in one cab with their “conversational enemy”.

      On the other hand Poles love arguing over statements they see as illogical, even when they’re in agreement over the general sentiment. If you know Miś, this particular manner of talking is parodied there in the scenes with the militia stopping drivers. Everyone would agree that it’s dangerous to drive fast in a house area, but people argue there over small holes in the militia’s arguments, like that a priest can’t have a child, or that one’s mother cannot be walking across the street because she’s in the car.

      That’s what I do very often. It’s one of my favourite things about being Polish. So, I think, it should be kept in mind, that the fact that a Pole spots a hole in an argument doesn’t yet mean that he or she is in disagreement over the essence of the argument. One may just think that the argument is weak and badly composed, and want to provoke someone into rephrasing the argument rather than changing their mind about the principle. Do I make sense or is it a very badly phrased argument?

      BTW I read that you’re the luckiest man in the world, married to a lovely Pole. Best wishes!

  3. polkaontheisland said

    Sylwiu, come back!

  4. You now what is strange ? I met only one gey couple during living in Warsaw (9 years) and more than 10 lesbians couples.

  5. [...] wanted to criticise gays and prevent them from public appearance. It’s not the case. Read my other post where I try to explain why I think that the parades aren’t the best form of promotion. It [...]

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