A controversial bill that would further limit access to comprehensive sexual education and anti-LGBTQ discrimination preventative classes in schools in Poland was vetoed last week by President Andrzej Duda.

The measure, similar in nature to an earlier measure also vetoed by Duda, would have implemented restrictions on curriculum and school activities, giving the country’s central government more control over the regional school systems and administrative staff.

The legislation was put forward by the majority ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland’s Parliament, known as the Sejm and Senate. Przemysław Czarnek, the ultra-conservative education minister who backed both bills, has publicly claimed that reforms are needed to “protect children from moral corruption.”

Both measures would give school administrators and superintendents the power to remove books, lessons, and ban student participation in events or clubs that are LGBTQ affirming.

The first passed the lower house of Poland’s Parliament, known as the Sejm, this past Jan. 13, in a 227-214 vote. Duda vetoed that initial version in March 2022. Undeterred law makers then drafted a later version, which moved control over directly to the education ministry.

Czarnek,  who has been vehemently opposed to the LGBTQ rights and the country’s equality movement, working with lawmakers was able to get the second version through the Parliament this past October.

The law, if signed, would have allowed education minister-appointed provincial education superintendents to suspend headteachers [principals/headmasters] if they conclude there is an “urgent threat to the safety of students during activities organized by a school.”

Czarnek, has been a leading figure in a campaign against what he has labeled “LGBT ideology,” which the minster alleges “comes from the same roots as Nazism.”

The legislation specified that schools would have had to submit details of extracurricular activities for the superintendent’s approval at least two months before they take place. The legislation also introduces additional hurdles for seeking the consent of parents for such activities.

Opponents of the measures say they were intended to prevent certain outside groups — such as sex educators or those speaking about LGBTQ issues — from entering schools.

Czarnek has staked out several public vitriolic anti-LGBTQ positions that has included an attack on the LGBTQ community in the U.S., specifically West Hollywood, Calif.

Speaking with a reporter on Serwis Info Poranek with the national state-run TVP Info (TVP3 Polska) last June, the education minister said (translated from Polish):

“Let’s end the discussion about these LGBT abominations, homosexuality, bisexuality, parades of equality. Let us defend the family, because failure to defend the family leads to what you see.

Przemysław Czarnek (Screenshot via Serwis Info Poranek)

As he spoke these words, he was holding a phone in his hand, on the display of which he showed a picture of several people.

“These are the Los Angeles guys in downtown last June. I was on a delegation there, I was passing through, there was a so-called gay pride parade there,” he added. “We are at an earlier stage, there are no such things with us yet, but such chaps shamelessly (shamelessly – ed.) Walk the streets of the western city of Los Angeles,” he added.

Passage of the second measure led to widespread protest by students and advocates across Poland.

Human Rights Watch noted that students and activists regularly gathered in front of Warsaw’s Presidential Palace and across the country to demand respect for their rights.

They called on Duda to veto a controversial bill that would further limit access to comprehensive sexuality education and anti-discrimination classes in schools.

Last Thursday Duda told reporters:

“I refuse to sign this bill,” said Duda. “I understand that some people will be disappointed, but a large part of our society will be calmed by this [decision].”

He then noted that he had received more than 130 protest letters against the law, some signed by dozens of organizations, with political views ranging from progressives to ultra far-right.

“Entities from all sides of the political scene find points in this act that they have very serious doubts about and against which they protest,” said Duda. “Unfortunately, it has not been possible to achieve what I would call a social compromise … The bill has not received wide social acceptance.”

The president emphasized — as he did when vetoing the similar law last March — that Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine makes it all the more important for “us to have peace” at home rather than conflict and division.

In a statement, Human Rights Watch said: “The public has taken to Poland’s streets countless times since the conservative Law and Justice party came to power in 2015 and launched an attack on women’s and LGBT rightsjudicial independence and education. Despite enduring civil society resistance and international pressure, the Polish government is likely to continue trying to limit students’ access to accurate, inclusive and age-appropriate sexuality education.”

Notes from Poland reported that one of the opposition progressive MPs, Katarzyna Lubnauer of the liberal Modern (Nowoczesna) party, hailed Duda’s veto as “a great victory for Polish schools, for all NGOs, for parents, children and all those who participate in education”

The post Polish president vetoes anti-LGBTQ bill that targeted schools appeared first on Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News.