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Polish state TV host issues apology for network’s history of anti-LGBTQ+ broadcasts

Image of Polish TV broadcaster Wojciech Szeląg wearing a suit and apologising for the channel's previous anti-LGBTQ+ messages.
Image of Polish TV broadcaster Wojciech Szeląg wearing a suit and apologising for the channel's previous anti-LGBTQ+ messages.

Polish journalist and TV host Wojciech Szelag issued a public apology for the TVP Info channel’s “shameful” history of spreading anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments while the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party was in power.

When PiS controlled the government from 2015-2023, the Polish state TV network TVP was widely criticised for its role in amplifying anti-LGBTQ+ stories and messages across the country.

Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski denounced the “madness” of LGBTQ+ people “declaring” themselves gay or genderqueer, and blamed Western Europe for infiltrating Catholic Poland with queer identities.

The TVP broadcast network regularly echoed these sentiments and shared news stories targeting the LGBTQ+ community with hate. The channel described LGBTQ+ identities as an “ideology,” and blatantly spread misinformation in accordance with PiS.

In 2020, a court ordered the channel to take down an anti-LGBTQ+ film, Invasion, from YouTube, and Polish activists identified TVP Info as an instrumental force in spreading anti-LGBTQ+ hate throughout the country.

The October 2023 national elections replaced the PiS conservative government with a more liberal coalition of parties, which marked a significant change to Poland’s social, political and cultural climate.

Pro-EU candidate Donald Tusk of the Civic Coalition party was sworn in as Prime Minister in December. Since his election, Tusk has overseen substantial changes to TVP and a sweeping series of personnel changes, including the appointment of host, Wojciech Szelag, in January 2024.

Under two months into the job, the TVP host has now publicly apologised for how the Polish state TV network has represented LGBTQ+ identities in the past.

While introducing the Guest of the Evening show, Szelag addressed two LGBTQ+ activists, Bart Staszewski and Maja Heban, stating, “LGBT+ people are not an ideology, but people: specific names, faces, loved ones and friends.”

The Polish state broadcaster then addressed the wider audience, saying, “All these people should hear the words, ‘I’m sorry,’ from this place today.”

 

Staszewski told the BBC he was “nearly in tears” after hearing the apology, considering the previous government had used TVP Info as “a tool of total hate against people like me.”

He later posted a tweet on X, sharing: “‘Truth hurts, but apologies heal.’ Today’s apologies for years of anti-LGBT propaganda are an important step in the process of healing society and restoring trust. Restoring trust requires not only truth, but also the courage to accept it.”

Bart Staszewski previously described the 2023 election results as the end of a “nightmare” for the LGBTQ+ community. He said, “This is just the beginning of reclaiming of our country. The fight is ahead but we are breathing fresh air today.”

The post Polish state TV host issues apology for network’s history of anti-LGBTQ+ broadcasts appeared first on GCN.