“The Brussels Diary With Yana Toom”: Conservatives, LGBT and Abortions


Is it autumn, or Saturn in Capricorn, or coronavirus – I do not know why but it has happened that gender-related issues in many places have attracted considerable interest.

The Pope expressed his opinion about gay people; following this, many expressed their opinions about the Pope. Our Minister of the Interior desires to send gay people to Sweden and then Reitelmann, a member of our parliament, just detonated a bomb with his Facebook post about “sodomites”. In the US, it seems as if the right to abortion has become the most important question in the presidential campaign. Meanwhile, abortion has been practically banned in Poland – causing enraged women to come out onto the streets of Warsaw.

It must be said that Poland has done this before. The party in power in Poland is called Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, in short PiS), and they are itching to do a lot. When Poles held their parliamentary elections last year, the conservatives built their campaign on opposition to non-traditional orientation. By this summer, it all led to a situation where more than one hundred local authorities in Poland, which cover one third of the area of the country, announced that they were ‘LGBT-free zones’.

The EU does not support any form of discrimination, including this type. In the beginning, last December, Poland was criticised in the European Parliament over this. At the same time, Brussels cannot tell Poland what to do; however, discrimination has its consequences. Starting from July, the European Commission ceased financing the ‘LGBT-free zones’ from Structural Funds. Justification is simple: the projects for which financing is requested will not be accessible to all citizens of the EU. These zones were not left without money, as funds were allocated by the Polish government. Nonetheless, this course of action has affected the budget.

This is Poland – the only country in Europe that does not consider itself obliged to adhere to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. A country that wants to leave the Istanbul convention on combating violence against women because, in the words of Zbigniew Ziobro, the Minister of Justice, it is ‘too liberal’. Now, abortion is banned, except in cases of rape, incest and when the woman's life is at risk.

I do not support abortion; I support the right to abortion. Banning abortion does not help in the struggle against abortion, and this has been supported by research: although abortion is illegal in El Salvador, a third of pregnancies are terminated anyway. Not surgically but with the help of medicines. Presently, women die due to illegal abortions less frequently; however, the number of illegal abortions grows when such a ban in place, while without a ban a stable decrease in the number of abortions is observed, as has been the case in Estonia.

A number of factors leads to an abortion: poor sexual education, inaccessibility of contraception, poverty and, let’s be honest, the behaviour of partners. Certainly, it is so much easier to ban everything and then close one’s eyes to illegal abortions: as if what is not visible does not exist. It is so much more difficult to give pregnant women certainty in their future.

This is the key to escalation. LGBT, abortions, immigrants and nationalism are the last trump cards in the hands of current conservatives to divide people and secure voters. Previously, conservatives raised the issue of the economy; today they are battling with gay people, refugees and women. Nothing more to say – an honourable stance.