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Photo by Kacper Pempel / Reuters
Photo by Kacper Pempel / Reuters

Poland's Queer community heartened by right-wing election losses
Poland's embattled Queer community felt a sense of relief on Monday as exit polls following Sunday's election indicated that the anti-Queer Law and Justice party will lose its government majority.

In the wake of a significant 72.9% voter turnout, the far-right party is expected to win a plurality of seats but not a majority, impeding them from being able to form a government. Opposition parties are expected to form a coalition, ousting the Law and Justice party from power.

The defeat of Poland's far-right party comes after eight years of antagonism targeting the nation's Queer community, including the imposition of "LGBT-free zones," which were declared unconstitutional by one of Poland's top courts in June 2022.

Bart Staszewski, a Queer activist focused on fighting the government's policies, told PinkNews that the election should put an end to the right's "political games."

"After eight years of horrible right-wing government that was targeting the LGBT minority like never before, now we wake up to this [reality]," Staszewski said.

"There were horrible attacks, horrible quotes from Polish politicians like Andrzej Duda, who said there is no LGBT people, there is an ideology... This is just a small part of what we have suffered from, and this was our reality on a daily basis."

He added, "I felt like a second-category citizen, and we were treated like second-category citizens. The government is telling you that you don't deserve equal rights, that you are not creating families, that you are an agent of the West trying to fight family values or tradition.

"The atmosphere was hostile. We felt that they don't want us here, but we still were here, we still were fighting for our country, because we are part of it."

He is now urging the parties that form the next coalition to focus on "restoring" human rights to Poland's most vulnerable communities.

"We know it will be a tough game with politicians who always have something more important do," he said, "but I can promise everybody we will fight for the future of all LGBTQ+ people in Poland."

Photo by Jean Alain Laportine / Reuters  

Mauritius's top court decriminalizes same-sex relations
The Supreme Court of Mauritius has struck down a colonial-era law criminalizing same-sex relations, bucking a trend elsewhere in Africa, where a string of countries have passed or proposed anti-Queer legislation.

In a ruling on two cases brought by members of the Gay community in the Indian Ocean island nation, the court said that Section 250 of the Mauritian criminal code, which dated back to 1898, during British colonial rule, was unconstitutional.

"Section 250 was not introduced in Mauritius to reflect any indigenous Mauritian values but was inherited as part of our colonial history from Britain," the court said in a ruling handed down on Wednesday.

Jean-Daniel Wong, the manager of the Arc-en-Ciel Collective, the largest Queer advocacy group in Mauritius, said the ruling was a huge relief.

"As an out Gay man in Mauritius, personally, there was kind of this Damocles sword hanging over our head," he told Reuters. "There is still a lot to do but ... we have faith in our public institutions."

He said the group's next priorities were to achieve legal recognition for Transgender people, legalize same-sex unions and fight hate crimes based on sexuality.

The government, the defendant in the cases, had said that while it was sympathetic to the arguments put forward by LGBT citizens, the values of wider society meant that the time was not right to change the law through Parliament.

But the Supreme Court said the old law "criminalizes the only natural way for the plaintiffs and other homosexual men to have sexual intercourse, whereas heterosexual men are permitted the right to have sexual intercourse in a way which is natural to them."

The Mauritian ruling stands in sharp contrast to developments elsewhere in Africa, most recently in Uganda, which passed one of the world's harshest anti-LGBT laws in May, imposing the death penalty for some same-sex acts.