top of page

Genocide Watch: Poland

Poland Genocide Watch

October 2021

Auschwitz I concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Watch for Poland. Since 2015, the Polish government has consistently sponsored discriminatory legislation against gender minorities. The governing Law and Justice Party espouses a nationalist, xenophobic, homophobic political ideology. Thegovernment also perpetuates distortion and denial of Polish collaboration with the Holocaust.

The dominant party, Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice or PiS), has a thin majority in the Polish Parliament, but it has lost control of the Senate. It is the party of Poland’s current president Andrzej Duda. The party is opposed to LGBTQ+ rights. It has imposed strict anti-abortion laws. It packed the Constitutional Court to remove legal obstacles to its domination. Freedom House characterizes the PiS government as illiberal and authoritarian. It has been increasingly likely to commit civil rights abuses.

Gender minorities have experienced numerous legal attacks from the Polish government. About one-third of Polish towns and regions have passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation or declared themselves free of ‘LGBT ideology’. In 2020, President Andrzej Duda referred to LGBTQ+ rights as an ideology "more harmful than communism." He proposed a constitutional ban prohibiting LGBTQ+ couples from adopting children.

Since 2015, the Polish government has severely restricted the right to an abortion. In January 2021, a Polish court ruled that abortions in cases of severe fetal abnormalities are unconstitutional. Abortion is only legal in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s health. Poland’s abortion laws are among the most restrictive in the EU. These laws have prompted dozens of protests from women and pro-choice activists.

There has been a significant rise in anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi ideology in Poland. In 2018, Poland passed a Holocaust censorship law, which criminalizes any mention of the Polish government during Nazi occupation as complicit in Nazi crimes. Polish historians, academics, and universities face prosecution and criminal penalties for teaching or writing about Poland’s role in the Holocaust or the long Polish history of anti-Semitism. Antisemitic vandalism at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp is an alarming warning of increased anti-Semitism and genocidal ideology in Poland.

Due to increased Holocaust distortion and anti-Semitic violence, state-sponsored discrimination against Polish gender minorities, and the authoritarianism of the ruling Law and Justice Party, Genocide Watch considers Poland to be at Stage 3: Discrimination, Stage 4: Dehumanization, Stage 6: Polarization, and Stage 10: Denial. Genocide Watch Recommends:

  • Polish political parties, especially the opposition Civic Platform party, should call on the ruling Law and Justice Party to reinstate constitutional checks and balances.

  • The EU and the Polish government should defund ‘LGBT-free’ townships and regions in Poland until they overturn their anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

  • The European Court of Human Rights should rule that Poland's Holocaust censorship law violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

  • Polish citizens should continue to peacefully protest Poland's anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Follow Genocide Watch for more updates:

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey YouTube Icon
bottom of page