REVIEW #18: Good and Bad Families: Discriminatory Family Policy of Polish Right-Wing Populists

In Poland, the word ‘family’ is tossed around by Law and Justice (PiS) politicians all the time. It has become their trademark, and a buzzword woven into every single political activity – both in areas of economy and cultural worldview. For the PiS party, like for many other right-wing populists around the globe, the word ‘family’ is a surrogate of the words ‘nation’ or ‘society’. A good, healthy one, which must be supported by the state. Clearly, it only applies to a particular model of the family, consistent with the vision and ideology of the ruling party.

This is the reason why the family policies of PiS should be seen rather as shell-policies, somewhat shiny from the outside, and yet, very empty on the inside. They are very limited, both objectively and subjectively. On the one hand, the Law and Justice party reduced family policies to handing out benefits, skipping all systemic reforms much needed to achieve the goals of a comprehensive social policy. On the other hand, PiS noticeably outlines the range of families it is willing to support. Among different family categories, the only valued are those corresponding to a conservative order, promoted by the catholic church, those that reconfirm that fertility is their supreme priority.


In this paradigm, there is no room for other types of families, thus, in other words, non-traditional families. They are commonly treated as non-matching elements and removed from the definition of a family with all social and economic consequences. Among this group there are rainbow families, which assume a special place, because they are established by LGBTQI+ people, who are officially discriminated against and attacked by the populist right wing in Poland. As a consequence, they are not only invisible for the Polish government, but also their rights and needs are intentionally neglected.

This issue has been noticed by European institutions (e.g., in the Baby Sofia decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) or in the European Commission’s proposal to harmonize the rules on recognizing parenthood across the European Union), which are trying to improve rainbow families’ situation in Poland – at least when it concerns the freedom of movement. But the PiS government torpedoes European efforts. Of course, for the sake of their alleged ‘pro-family’ stance.


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Milosz Hodun