Poland has become an increasingly unwelcoming place for the LGBTQ community. Fifty diplomats hope to change that.
- An open letter, signed by 50 ambassadors and NGO leaders, asked the Polish government to respect LGBT rights.
- The Polish Government responded by denying the implied discrimination exists.
- Poland has been deemed the "worst place to be gay" in the EU in spite of this.
Strongly worded letters, the weapon of champions.<p> Organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Poland, the <a href="https://pl.usembassy.gov/open_letter/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">open</a> <a href="https://pl.usembassy.gov/open_letter/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">letter</a> was signed by the Ambassadors of 43 nations representing most of Europe and all of continental North America, as well as several countries from Asia, Africa, and South America. Representatives of various international organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also signed. </p><p>The letter pays tribute to those working for LGBT+ rights in Poland and affirms the dignity found in each person "as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." It goes on to remind the reader that "respect for these fundamental rights, which are also enshrined in OSCE commitments and the obligations and standards of the Council of Europe and the European Union as communities of rights and values, obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities."</p><p>It ends with the declaration, "Human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBT+ persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment. This is something that everyone should support."</p><p>The American Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, <a href="https://twitter.com/USAmbPoland/status/1310276250993405954?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1310276250993405954%7Ctwgr%5Eshare_3&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.them.us%2Fstory%2F50-countries-sign-letter-condemning-polands-lgbt-free-zones" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">retweeted</a> the letter and added, "Human Rights are not an ideology - they are universal. 50 Ambassadors and Representatives agree." </p>
The Response of the Polish Government<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EBthKt2Of9U" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>The Polish Government was less than pleased with the letter and its implications. <br> <br> The Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, rejected the letter and its implications, saying "nobody needs to teach us tolerance, because we are a nation that has learned such tolerance for centuries and we have given many testimonies to the history of such tolerance."<strong></strong></p><p><strong> </strong>This sort of rebuttal is nothing new; just last week, when American Presidential Candidate Joe Biden <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1307831910089990144" target="_blank">tweeted </a>that "LGBT-free zones' have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world," the <a href="https://wyborcza.pl/7,173236,26327279,polish-embassy-to-biden-no-lgbt-free-zones-exist-in-poland.html?disableRedirects=true" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Polish Embassy in the United States </a>was quick to say the tweet was based on inaccurate information, to reassure the world that there are no such zones, and to restate their belief there is no place for discrimination in society. <br> </p><p>A quick fact check demonstrates otherwise. Several places in Poland have declared themselves to be "<a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-54191344" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">LGBT free zones,</a>" violence inspired by anti-LGBT+ propaganda has taken <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/27/world/europe/gay-pride-march-poland-violence.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">place</a>, l<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/world/europe/LGBT-free-poland-EU-funds.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eading government figures</a> have declared homosexuality to be a "threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state," and the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda has declared the LGBT movement to be more dangerous than <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54317902" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Communism</a><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-a-gender-conspiracy-theory-is-spreading-across-the-world-133854" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">. Surveys</a> show nearly a third of Poland's people believe in a grand conspiracy against them involving "<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-gender_movement" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gender ideology.</a>"</p><p>It is also worth repeating that Poland has been declared the worst place in the European Union for <a href="https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/05/14/poland-ranked-as-worst-country-in-eu-for-lgbt-people/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gay</a> <a href="https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/05/14/poland-ranked-as-worst-country-in-eu-for-lgbt-people/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rights</a>. Same-sex unions of any kind, including civil unions, are still illegal, and gay couples have no right to adopt children. Laws against hate crimes and conversion therapy are also notoriously lacking. Though to their credit, gay men and bisexuals can donate blood in Poland with greater ease then they can in the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_donation_restrictions_on_men_who_have_sex_with_men#Europe" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United States. </a> </p><p>Despite having a first-hand understanding of the dangers of authoritarianism and intolerance than most nations, some in Poland continue to use the LGBT+ community as a boogeyman. While it is not the first time such things have been done, perhaps it will be one of the last. </p>
Sexuality is fluid and it's important that people get to define it for themselves.
- Sexuality is fluid and ever-changing, and our understanding of it has come a long way since the invention of the Kinsey Scale in the 1940's.
- Defining your own sexuality is important as it is a uniquely personal experience.
- While creating labels for yourself can help you better understand your orientation and build connections along your sexual journey, it's important not to place labels on others. Be open to hearing how they see themselves and respectful enough to refer to them on those terms.
Defining lesser-known orientations along the spectrum<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzE2OTIwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODY4OTk5Mn0.1viRcXIXuakX1eJqrh2gD3MUIk5-6syW-2Eza9o7WmE/img.png?width=980" id="79f48" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5d68bd6890a288fd97a3fb5e6724c78d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1164" data-height="671" />
Unofficial Kinsey Scale test (an official test does not exist, according to the Kinsey Institute)
The answer depends on how we choose to balance religious freedom, social inclusion, and the search for self-identity.
- Most medical and mental health organizations have condemned conversion therapy as injurious and lacking support of empirical evidence.
- Today, 19 states and many cities have passed laws protecting youths from the practice.
- However, lawsuits and pushback by religious organizations have limited what laws can be passed.
What exactly is conversion therapy?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3NDUwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NzA3OTYzMH0.0_IckwoxDKR3YyCNhbntNGgbR_0o5A49SbgHW9NtU68/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=12%2C0%2C12%2C0&height=700" id="80298" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f614dbf1eca2e577273a38d5355390e1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Though former president Obama floated the idea of a nationwide ban on conversion therapy, it never came to fruition during this term.
Is there evidence that conversion therapy works?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3NDQ4Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzAyODk0OX0.H4bV_wfsUI58db-m9HZYIpa-D2IXJ2WURyC3EB9of4I/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C173%2C0%2C39&height=700" id="1980c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ffd8cb2a8b0410f9543d7832b3ae909a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
In 2017, Dannel Malloy, then governor of Connecticut, signed into law the state's ban against practicing conversion therapy on minors.<p>All told, 698,000 LGBT adults in the U.S. have received conversion therapy in some form, according to <a href="https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Conversion-Therapy-LGBT-Youth-Update-June-2019.pdf" target="_blank">a Williams Institute report</a>. While some studies and testimonials purport to have successfully altered some of their sexual orientations, such claims crumble when one examines the slipshod methodology and flawed data gathering.</p><p>"No credible evidence exists that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective does sexual orientation need to be changed," states the APA in <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/apa-reiterates-strong-opposition-to-conversion-therapy" target="_blank">its position statement</a>.</p><p>In <a href="http://www.drdoughaldeman.com/doc/ScientificExamination.pdf" target="_blank">an examination of the evidence</a>, Haldeman found several methodological flaws. These included using only clinical samples, a lack of replicability, poor assessment of sexual orientation, and outcomes substantiated by internal validation rather than external data.</p><p>Many studies, for example, hang their results on either therapist impressions or self-reporting. But such measurements cannot prove conversion. Therapists may cite a momentary drop in homosexual arousal as a full-fledged cure, while demeaned patients may report conversion in a bid to acquire personal and social validation.</p><p>"This reiterates one of the major objections to conversion studies: These interventions do not shift sexual orientation at all," Haldeman writes. "<a target="_blank">Individuals undergoing such treatments do not emerge heterosexually inclined; rather, they become shamed, conflicted, and fearful about their homosexual feelings."</a></p><p>Beyond a lack of methodological rigor, conversion therapy houses <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5040471/" target="_blank">many ethical concerns</a>. These include patient blaming, patient abandonment, indiscriminate treatments, breaches of confidentiality, and building informed consent on the subjective beliefs of the practitioner, not medical consensus.</p><p>These practices violate the ethical standards adopted by most professional organizations, and like the APA, <a href="https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy" target="_blank">many have issued statements</a> condoning its use. Among them: the American College of Physicians, the American Counseling Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American School Health Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.</p>
Medical consensus versus religious freedom?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="iAU9xTkK" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f5c5615069c170211a07b6dd77d0e8f0"> <div id="botr_iAU9xTkK_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/iAU9xTkK-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/iAU9xTkK-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/iAU9xTkK-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Given the history, the lack of evidence, the harm done, the ethics violated, and the changing times—given <em>all of this</em>—one would think a universal ban was soon to come. But that doesn't appear to be the case.</p><p>Remember that New York City ordinance? <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/09/13/why-nycs-council-made-painful-decision-repeal-its-ban-conversion-therapy/" target="_blank">The city council repealed it in 2019</a> after the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian advocacy group, <a href="https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/schwartz-v.-city-of-new-york/schwartz-v-city-of-new-york---complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=a8d0354_6" target="_blank">filed a lawsuit</a> against the ordinance. The group claimed the ban infringed on people's freedom of speech and religion.</p><p>"All New Yorkers and all Americans deserve the right to private conversations, free from government control," Roger Brooks, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in <a href="https://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/press-release-details/nyc-council-votes-to-repeal-law-that-censors-psychotherapist-s-private-conversations-with-patients" target="_blank">a statement</a>. "By trying to regulate and censor private sessions between an adult and his counselor, New York City directly violated freedom of speech—a core right that the First Amendment protects."</p><p>Council members chose to repeal the ordinance rather than risk it going to the Supreme Court, where they feared the court's conservative alignment would set a precedent making future LGBTQ advocacy efforts more difficult.</p><p>And to gain backing from the Mormon church, <a href="https://apnews.com/d40028478077446195dbd139bd9a8575" target="_blank">the Utah bill</a> had to stipulate an exception for clergy, religious counselors, and any child's parent or grandparent who is also a mental health therapist. </p><p>"Progress is progress in this state. You kind of have to make some compromises," Justin Utley, a conversion therapy survivor, <a href="https://apnews.com/d40028478077446195dbd139bd9a8575" target="_blank">told the<em> Associated Press</em></a>. "My concern, though, is clergy who are licensed professionals having this ability to justify conversion therapy by claiming that they've turned off the switch and now are acting as a clergy member instead of a licensed professional. That's a very dangerous precedent."</p><p>Utley's concern is founded. A study published in <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00918369.2018.1538407" target="_blank">the <em>Journal of Homosexuality</em></a> found that attempts by family members and religious leaders to change an LGBT adolescent's sexual orientation can lead to multiple health and behavioral risks. The researchers found higher levels of depression compared to those who reported no conversion experience, as well as double rates of attempted suicide. Undergoing conversion therapy was also correlated with young LGBT adults attaining less education and lower socioeconomic status.</p><p>As Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project and the study's lead author, said in <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181108130522.htm" target="_blank">a release</a>: "Although parents and religious leaders who try to change a child's LGBT identity may be motivated by attempts to 'protect' their children, these rejecting behaviors instead undermine an LGBT child's sense of self-worth, contribute to self-destructive behaviors that significantly increase risk and inhibit self-care, which includes constricting their ability to make a living."</p>
Can we find the balance?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3NDUxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxODAxMDQzNn0.ljwxm9_EKbW_ZASZ2XMB941WGmKmRifpQX5xuWNqIEQ/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C374%2C0%2C375&height=700" id="863d2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f7aac6b534d7ae4d98dd2e6d91040186" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
An 2010 anti-gay protest in San Francisco.
Taking the fourth spot on Big Think's 2019 top 10 countdown is the question: Evolutionarily speaking, is being gay still something of an enigma?
- Big Think's fourth most popular video of 2019 features bioethicist Alice Dreger. She presents the idea that heterosexual people have been less interesting to scientists than gay people in terms of why they exist. This is because, evolutionarily speaking, being gay doesn't lead to a higher "higher reproductive fitness" — meaning, it doesn't lead to more babies.
- Huge and rigorous studies have proven the fraternal birth order effect: Statistically, if a mother has lots of pregnancies of males, every successive male child will be a little bit more likely to be gay. This is because the mother's immune system appears to react to the male fetus' hormones and may dampen them down.
- The Western view of gay and straight isn't the definitive definition. In Samoan culture, there is a third gender: fa'afafine. These are boys who are raised as girls; they become women culturally and partner with men, although they don't change their physical anatomy.
Sally Susman explains how to use truth-telling moments to your future benefit.
- The biggest decision of Pfizer executive Sally Susman's life was to come out as gay in 1984, when society was not as accepting as it is now.
- She was told she would never have a spouse, a career, or children; those were the fears told to her by the people who loved her most.
- Defying that prediction became her personal north star, and 31 years later she has done it. Susman used that truth-telling moment of coming out as a way to focus her ambitions and plant the seeds for her future.