A new pro-democracy movement is brain-storming in Poland, led by gay mayor Robert Biedron
We were alerted by some Polish friends in our networks to the rising star of that country’s politics: the mayor of Slupsk, Robert Biedron.
Polish politics is gripped at the moment by the deeply conservative ruling party Law and Justice (PiS), Their stances against abortion and gay marriage, and their removal of constitutional checks and balances and subjugating independent institutions (like the media and judiciary), has brought them into conflict with the European Union.
Biedron - a popular mayor who rescued his city from bankruptcy - wants to challenge this conservatism from a number of angles. One of which is clearly to launch a friendly social movement first, and then a party in service of that. See this piece in Deutsche Welle, Germany’s national broadcaster:
When meeting with supporters, Robert Biedron appears beaming, vibrant and confident. For months, Poland's first openly gay mayor has been beating the drum for his new party, set to be founded in February 2019. The move to comes as the country gears up for four elections, domestic and European, over the next 21 months.
His regular events, dubbed "Brainstorming with Biedron," attract hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. [This BBC report notes that he often drags a red sofa out into the street to talk to constituents]. His agenda is classic left: reduce poverty, liberalize abortion restrictions, create more preschool spots and improve the state-run health system.
But it is his relaxed demeanor, less stilted than established politicians, and his life story that lend him an air of authenticity and credibility.
Biedron comes from staunchly conservative southern Poland. As a youth, he was ostracized for his homosexuality, suffering to the point of contemplating suicide. As a politician, he has campaigned for LGBT+ rights.
His "Campaign Against Homophobia," founded in 2001, was a source of controversy in Poland's conservative society. Ten years later, he became Poland's first openly-gay member of the Polish parliament, the Sejm.
The avowed patriot is determined to marry his long-time partner Krzysztof — but only if he can do it in Poland, where it is currently banned.
"I'm a Pole. I have paid my taxes and served my country for years," the 42-year-old said. "That's why I expect to be treated equally in my state." Should same-sex marriage become legal in Poland, the mayor and his partner hope to wed in Slupsk, where Biedron has been mayor since 2014.
More here. We’re wondering (and we’d invite some information from the Poland-literate) whether Biedron is connected to the amazing citizen assembly work that’s being done in that country by Marcin Gerwin, which we profiled here.