Reframing LGBT rights advocacy in the context of the rule of law backsliding

The case of Poland


  • Barbara Grabowska-Moroz Central European University
  • Anna Wójcik Polish Academy of Sciences

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Adopting the methods of institutional analysis and case law analysis, the paper answers how specific elements of rule of law backsliding impact advocacy for minorities’ rights’ recognition. The phenomenon is analysed in the case of Poland, a state that since 2015 has been experiencing directed erosion on rule of law standards. Between 2018 and 2020, governmental leaders in Poland targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the context of electoral campaigns. The paper discusses long-term legal, political, and social factors contributing to creating an environment where such anti-LGBT campaigns are possible. It further demonstrates that specific elements of rule of law backsliding, such as politically subordinating the Constitutional Tribunal and the office of the Prosecutor General, enable authorities to apply discriminatory legal instruments to limit the targeted minority’s rights and also make resistance to it with legal means more complex. Against this backdrop, the paper argues that human rights defenders’ immediate responses—private civil lawsuits, artistic projects, and monitoring of discriminatory actions of the authorities—were key for drawing domestic and international attention to anti-LGBT campaigns, which later led to the European Union’s institutions concrete actions and an independent Commissioner for Human Rights’ legal actions. Cumulatively, these actions contributed to reversing elements of the anti-LGBT campaign in Poland.




How to Cite

Grabowska-Moroz, B. and Wójcik, A. 2022. Reframing LGBT rights advocacy in the context of the rule of law backsliding: The case of Poland. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 7, 4 (Jan. 2022), 85–103. DOI:



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