Comments on being a decent human being
I know I should concentrate on economic matters, but please allow me first to write a couple of words about the situation, which has gained great importance in the recent presidential campaign and about which I know I cannot remain voiceless.
Of course I would not be myself if there was nothing about the economy in my entry, so at the end of this article I will as usual add a little about what the situation at hand does to the economy.
The situation I refer to is the recent attack on LGBT people, which has been made one of the main elements of the recent elections and which has so for developed a life of its own, gaining momentum, which the recent events of last Friday seem to confirm.
Generous estimation (although coming from the age of Alfred Kinsey’s work, so we may treat them with a pinch of salt) indicate, that every population includes approximately 10% people, whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual. In Poland this would give us about 3,5 million people. This means, that statistically speaking, everyone, absolutely everyone has an LGBT person among their friends and relatives. Regardless of whether we know of this or even approve of this. This is a large number (as there is no such thing as a heterosexual ideology, there is no LGBT ideology, these are living people we are talking about). Attack on those people are therefore not incidents but an assault targeting a large group.
As a human being I must protest against these attacks on the basis of moral grounds. Such actions are simply despicable. We cannot discriminate against anyone, using love as a criterion. When two adults, wishing to simply be who they are, act without hurting anyone, it is obligatory for the State and the society to guarantee them protection.
In case of LGBT attacks, there is also the question of punishing people for love. Yes, love. I must also add, that who we love and with whom we share our love, under the premises that both people are consenting adults, with full legal capacity and fully aware of their choices, is one of the most basic human rights. Nobody has the right to force on anyone who to love.
When asked in the future where I was and what I was doing, when the government deleted from the lists of citizens millions of people and turned them into ideology or refused them basic rights (or called for others to do so), I want to be able to reply with something more than just “I did nothing”.
If moral arguments do not convince you than now – as a lawyer – I must protest on legal grounds against discriminating against anyone on the basis of any criteria. Of course (yes, legal disclaimers to follow) the law may, in order to protect society, impose special criteria on people, which results from their attitude towards social order eg. Depriving a person of liberty is basically a criminal act, unless it concerns someone who has been sentenced to imprisonment for committing a crime, where the law provides for such a punishment. Such rules are clear, without them we would have no social order, but every such case is always an exception and must be treated very seriously. We cannot use this every time it is politically convenient. Differentiating people based on their features of character (and especially those features they have absolutely no influence on) is simply unacceptable, period.
I know that homosexuality (as well as every aspect of human sexuality, welcome to the dark ages, burning at the stake for anyone?) raises a lot of strong feelings in Poland, but this is no reason to substitute logical thinking and empathy with them. These are real people we are talking about, who live among us and should have the same rights as we do (in theory they do, in practice we all know it is not so).
A friend of mine once (by the way a generally smart guy, so I was surprised at this) told me that he would feel uncomfortable working with a gay man, for fear of being raped every time he bent over. I asked him then, since he was heterosexual, if he raped his female co-workers every time they bent over to pick something up. I further pointed out that the idea of raping anyone anywhere is (delicately speaking) not very nice, morally questionable and carrying a 2-12 years imprisonment. He had no comments to that whatsoever.
The above viewpoint, as well as the general opinion, that LGBT people wish to convert anyone or convince them to their own vision of life etc. show how little we know of millions of people living alongside us and how flawed our knowledge about them is. This also means that the State and society have badly neglected basic education in this regard. The world run forward into the XXIst century while we still treat minorities according to rules invented in the XVIII century. This does not do us credit. If we do not catch up quickly, we may wind up as the Neanderthals did in the advent of homo sapiens.
I know many LGBT people and there are both wonderful beings and rat bastards among them, which is exactly what occurs in the general population and in every group of people. This is absolutely not different from the heterosexual part of the society. Herein lies the crux of the matter – such division between heterosexual and everybody else has nothing to do with reality. They are all normal (or in same cases positively extraordinary) people, the same as you and I, regardless of their sexual orientation.
IF we allow attacks on LGBT people now, tomorrow there will be attacks on red-haired people, then those with blue eyes, than all those, whose name starts with an “M” and ultimately anyone who the authorities (any authorities) chose. We must not allow stigmatizing people on the sole grounds that they are different from us or have other opinions than we do. If we do not stop this now, some day we will be the victim of similar attacks. We must understand that tolerance for such attacks now, will come back to haunt us sooner or later and we will sooner or later face the same weapon turned against us.
Coming finally to the promised economic arguments. What State (although the same applies to companies) can allow itself to exclude 10% of its own citizens (or clients)? Are not LBGT people generating GDP as everyone else? Do they not eat, work, pay taxes, use goods and services (which then too generate taxes etc.)? How can one claiming to be the custodian of the economy so lightly dismiss billions of Polish złoty in the form of goods, services and taxes? If we force Poland to become unfriendly towards LGBT people, we are pressuring them to emigrate. This is a crime committed not only towards those people, but towards all citizens, as the country will be made poorer, will have less funds for infrastructure, economic stimulation, security, education or the health services. A president of the board of any company, who would, out or purely ideological grounds, try to exclude 10% of the company’s customers, would immediately be dismissed from office, for actions detrimental to the company. Exactly the same should apply in Poland. Who raises their hand against 10% of citizens now, will probably do so against further 20% in the future etc. This must be resisted with all possible strength, as apart from destroying the lives of all those people we are also destroying our own country. I do not want to one day wake up and find, that despite my best efforts, my years of hard work, sacrifices and fighting for a better tomorrow, I no longer feel at home in my own country. And I cannot allow anyone else to feel the same – therefore I have no choice but to protest.
I want to continue to live in this country and be able to look into the future without fear and in the mirror without shame.
To my readers I strongly recommend (as a warning) the following poem:
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
(German Lutheran pastor, written in the concentration camp at Dachau in 1942)
First they came for the Communists And I did not speak out Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists And I did not speak out Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists And I did not speak out Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews And I did not speak out Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me And there was no one left To speak out for me