Ruling coalition “wants to destroy religion and turn people into animals”, says Polish opposition leader

Opposition leader Jarosław Kaczyński has accused Prime Minister Donald Tusk of overseeing a plan to bring Poland under external control by the EU and of seeking to “destroy religion and turn people into animals”.

In response, Tusk has accused Kaczyński of using rhetoric similar to that of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

“Opcja europejska chce zniszczyć religię i zrobić z ludzi zwierzęta! Wolność na Zachodzie się cofa”.
Putin? Nie, to Jarosław Kaczyński wczoraj do swoich wyborców na Podlasiu.

— Donald Tusk (@donaldtusk) May 17, 2024

“We are dealing with a situation in which if these further steps, changes in [EU] treaties, are carried out, then we will no longer be a Polish state, we will simply be an area in which Poles live, but are managed from the outside,” said Kaczyński on Thursday at a campaign event ahead of next month’s European elections.

“As long as they [Tusk’s coalition] rule, this ‘European option’…[will seek] to destroy religion, to destroy what people believe in, they want to turn people into animals,” he added, quoted by the wPolityce news website. “We in Poland do not agree to this.”

As evidence of this “religious war”, Kaczyński pointed to new rules introduced by Warsaw mayor Rafał Trzaskowski – who is a deputy leader of Tusk’s centrist Civic Platform (PO) party – banning religious symbols such as crosses from being displayed at city hall.

Warsaw’s mayor has banned the display of religious symbols such as crosses from city hall.

He has also ordered officials to respect the rights of same-sex couples and to use people’s preferred pronouns

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) May 16, 2024

Trzaskowski has also instructed municipal employees to respect the rights of same-sex couples and to use people’s preferred pronouns. Kaczyński suggested that this was part of efforts by “morally corrupted elites” to “completely confuse people”.

“A woman and a man have different genes, there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Kaczyński, whose national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party led a concerted campaign against what it called “LGBT ideology” or “gender ideology” during its time in power from 2015 to 2023.

But now, he warned, ideas relating to transgenderism, “something that is on the margins of the margins when it comes to actual social and biological phenomena, is becoming a certain norm…People are being deprived of their freedom to criticise all these strange ideas”.

Poland has been ranked as the worst country in the EU for LGBT+ people for the fifth year in a row

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) May 15, 2024

Kaczyński also suggested that, while such ideas are spreading from the West, they are being encouraged by “from the East” – a reference to Russia, which he said wants to “turn the Western world into something weak, passive, idiotic…so that they can control it”. It does this through “a variety of actions planned decades” in advance.

However, Tusk and his PO party have in recent days themselves accused Kaczyński and PiS of using Russian-style rhetoric and of acting in Putin’s interests.

Quoting Kaczyński’s remarks about the destruction of religion and turning people into animals, Tusk wrote on social media: “Putin? No, it was Jarosław Kaczyński speaking to his voters.”

Earlier on Thursday, PO published a campaign video in which it declared that “PiS is Russia’s greatest success in Poland” and quoted Tusk calling Kaczyński’s group “paid traitors, Russian henchmen”.

🔴 “Największym sukcesem Rosji w Polsce jest PiS!”

— PlatformaObywatelska (@Platforma_org) May 16, 2024

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Main image credit: Slawomir Kaminski / Agencja

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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