In an LGBT-free zone in Poland, a local priest told school children that being gay is a “mental disorder” that can be “treated” with electricshocks – and ministers defended him.
Students at a high school in Limanowa, a small town in the province of Lesser Poland, were taught homophobia as part of an online religious education class on 30 April, the Barricade reported.
In the presentation, obtained by blogger and LGBT+ activist Klaudia Szubert and uploaded to her social media, the unnamed catechist lectured pupils of the First High School Władysław Orkan on how homosexuality is caused by “hormonal imbalances during pregnancy”.
Among the other causes of homosexuality, according to the priest, range from family dysfunction, “failed relationships with women” to living in a “hermetic male environment”.
Its treatment includes hysterectomy, ovariectomy, clitoridectomy and vasectomy, as well as drugs and electroshock therapy.
As the slideshow became a lightning rod of criticism for activists, stunned at the misinformation spouted to students, top government officials rushed to support its hateful teachings.
In a letter to Limanowa.in, a local news outlet, Poland’s deputy climate and environment minister Edward Siarka sought to defend the priest from “slander”.
“An attack on a pastor who conducts catechesis in accordance with church teachings is unacceptable,” the lawmaker for the Law and Justice Party, otherwise known as PiS, wrote.
“Another attack by leftist circles on pastors who teach the church’s teachings,” he added in a tweet.
“Defending Christian values runs counter to gender ideology. The church cannot give in to the anti-clerical lobby. It must adhere to the preached Gospel.”
Amid heaving backlash, the priest wrote in an email addressed both to the students and to the Catholic Diocese of Tarnów that the presentation was a “mistake”.
“My intention was not to hurt or offend anyone, but to present the church’s teaching,” he said in the email, seen by Wirtualna Polska.
The province of Lesser Poland is one of a growing number of so-called LGBT-free zones that have reduced the country into a patchwork of fear.
More than 100 municipalities, counties and provinces have passed combative but vastly symbolic legislation declaring themselves “free” from “LGBT+ ideology”. The laws have been lobbied mainly by the small but powerful conservative think-tank OrdoIuris, according to activists monitoring the hundreds of anti-LGBT+ laws being churned out by local governments.
Local and regional leaders make their open hostility to the LGBT+ community all the clearer by often banning Pride marchers and throttling vital funding to pro-LGBT+ NGOs.
And in those towns where Pride marches carry on, this ever-increasing sense of impunity felt by homophobes has seen Pride-goers have bottles, eggs and firecrackers lobbed at them.
As much as Poland’s ruling lawmakers have denied or downplayed these zones, European Union officials have imposed financial sanctions on “LGBT-free” towns by denying them funds for its town twinning programme.
Overall, the viciousness and brazenness of such hatred are seen by many activists as the upshot of the years-long rule of the right-wing Law and Justice Party.
Its chair says LGBT+ people are a “threat” and its deputy has called the community “depraved and immoral” – divisive messages only amplified by state-owned news media, now twisted into a propaganda arm, and supported by the Roman Catholic Church.