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Polish Bishops Propose Sending LGBTQ+ People to Conversion 'Clinics'

Polish Bishops

Polish Catholic bishops have called for “clinics” to be set up for LGBTQ+ people in efforts for them to “regain their natural sexual orientation.”

The bishops laid out their stance in a 27-page document presented during a plenary meeting at the 386th Polish Episcopal Conference (in Polish, Konferencja Episkopatu Polski) over the weekend.

The document claims these clinics would help LGBTQ+ people realize their sexuality is “a symptom of wounds on various levels of their personality” and would help those “who wish to regain a healthy identity and spiritual harmony.”

The document also seems to contradict itself. While arguing for the notion that LGBTQ+ people need to be converted to heterosexuality and/or cisgender identity, in a type of therapy widely considered to be mental and emotional abuse, the bishops implore the public to “respect” the queer community, saying, “The requirement of respect for all people, including people identifying with LGBT+, is entirely correct, and a democratic state with the rule of law should ensure that none of the fundamental rights of these people are violated.”

They continue, “Any acts of physical or verbal violence, any forms of hooligan behavior and aggression against LGBT+ people are unacceptable,” but say the quest for LGBTQ+ equality is “clearly contrary to human nature and the common good (such as same-sex relationships or the adoption of children by such couples).”

The bishops also undermine trans people by rejecting the right of a person to “self-determine their gender without reference to objective criteria determined by their genome and anatomy” and saying that a “radical separation between biological sex and cultural gender” has developed.

The language is limited in its scope as far as how these clinics might look in practice, but the notion of creating such spaces is essentially the same idea behind conversion therapy camps, which have been discredited by the World Psychiatric Association. In the United States, 20 states and numerous cities and counties have barred licensed mental health professionals from subjecting minors to conversion therapy.

The United Nations is currently trying to ban conversion therapy globally.

Not all religious leaders supported the document’s argument. Father Jacek Prusak spoke to TVN24 about the idea of conversion clinics, saying the bishops were “treating the Bible as a psychology textbook and a constitution for all Poles, and this cannot be done.”

Prusak added that he believes the document was partially aimed at Polish politicians following the reelection of President Andrzej Duda, who vehemently opposes LGBTQ+ equality and has continued to promote homophobic agendas across the country.

Duda's efforts have seen drastic consequences. Last year, Marek Jedraszewski, the Catholic archbishop of Kraków, spoke at a mass and compared the LGBTQ+ movement to Soviet Communism. 

“Our land is no longer affected by the red plague, which does not mean that there is no new one that wants to control our souls, hearts and minds,” Jedraszewski said at the time, “not Marxist, Bolshevik, but born of the same spirit, neo-Marxist. Not red, but rainbow.” 

In recent years, nearly one-third of Poland’s municipalities have passed resolutions reminiscent of Russia’s anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda law, which criminalizes positive public statements about queer identity.

These cities have declared themselves “LGBT-free” zones and directly contradict the mission of freedom of expression promorted by the European Commission, an executive branch of the European Union. 

Sx of these “LGBT-free” cities have lost funding from the European Commission because of their adoption of these resolutions.

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