Tag Archives: Poland

‘Between the Blocks’ Shows the Struggles and Beauty of a Polish Lesbian Couple and Their Family

If you read a few headlines about recent activity in Poland and it’s easy to get a grasp on what the country’s ‘intolerant’ culture looks like. In September, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe and Central Asia, Marco Perolini said that “Poland has a two-tiered legal system that protects some minority groups but leaves others to fend for themselves” and that if you are a gay person who has been attacked, the police won’t treat it as a hate crime.

Poland doesn’t have same-sex marriage either (with 68% of the population against it) and even civil unions are a contentious issue with the Sejm (the lower house of Polish parliament) having refused to debate the issue twice in the last 12 months. Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz has stated that civil partnerships are simply a problem for the next parliament to deal with.

So with all of this sitting uncomfortably on the mind of Poland’s same-sex couples, what is it actually like for them to live in the country? A new photography story called Between the Block (by photographer Anna Liminowicz) aims to answer, as it follows the life of Honorata and Agnieszka, a same-sex couple who live in Poland with their two children (from previous relationships), Antek and Natalia.

The photos follow a look at the couple’s home life, how they all interact as a family and it even includes some shots of the couple at work too.

When Liminowicz first met the family, Agnieszka, Honorata, Natalia and Honorata’s brother Michal were living in a 19-square metre apartment in Gdansk and though it sounds awfully cramped, the photographer notes that they always seemed to be laughing or smiling and they were always willing to help out a friend or loved one if they needed it.

Eventually, Agnieszka and Honorata both get promoted as managers at the supermarket that they both work at and so they move out to a three-bedroom apartment in Kalisz. Here, Antek joins them; previously he son stayed with his grandparents as Agnieszka’s parents weren’t too happy about her sexuality, despite how close-knit the family is. (And while Agnieszka’s parents seem to be ok with Antek’s current living situation, it’s worth noting that neither of them were willing to comment on the story when the images were featured in a Polish newspaper).

As for what the couple hopes that they’ll accomplish by being part of Between the Blocks, they hope to show ‘the joy that their relationship brings to the family’, according to Feature Shoot.

More than that though, Honorata and Agnieszka desire acceptance and tolerance, says the publication, as with Antek’s father often being hassled by his friends to keep Antek away from his mother and her partner and with the aforementioned tolerance difficulties in the country, Poland still has a long way to go until they are treated equally.

‘In Hiding’ Is An Unlikely Queer Drama Set In WW2 Poland

Over the past few we’ve really ramped up our coverage of European LGBT films. There’s Italian romcom Io e Lei, French, 70s drama Summertime and then there’s the Danish/Slovenian title, Dual.

While the characters of these films have their own conflicts, whether that be parents or language barriers, they each give you something to smile about.

But much less can be said about In Hiding, the 2013 film about two women who end up living together during World War 2. Indeed, with one of the women (Ester, played by Julia Pogrebinska) being Jewish and having to live in hiding with Janka (played by Magdalena Boczarska) and her father, it was never going to be easy for them to get by.


The fear of being arrested by the Nazi regime – and therefore their inability to leave the house together – is just one of the things that threaten to get between the two leads of In Hiding, however.

Namely, there’s the fact that Janka didn’t want Ester to stay with her and her dad in the first place, not wanting to put her own life in danger for a Jewish girl and on top of that there’s the fact that both Janka and Ester have boyfriends.


As the film progresses, and Janka’s dad disappears, In Hiding’s protagonists do warm up to each other and Janka does ditch her boyfriend (though Ester is clearly still into hers). But even then it’s not easy for them to just be in love and wait the war out because a neighbour moves into the apartment next to them and threatens to rat them out.


And on top of that even after they overcome the neighbour’s blackmailing schemes and the two women do hook up, Janka remains concerned that someone will discover the fact that she’s hiding Ester or that Ester will discover that in the time that they’ve been living together, the war has actually ended and Ester will go back to her boyfriend.


Yes, this film isn’t as bright and shiny as one would have hoped (though could two women in love ever really thrive in such a setting) but some have called it downright troubling.

The lies and the deceit (which some have, perhaps rightfully, called emotional abuse) are enough to turn you off the couple and though you can try and hold on and hold out for the more loving moments between Janka and Ester, the film switches back to the drama quickly it’ll give you whiplash.


That’s not to say that it’s a bad film as not every film needs to be a lovefest (though reviews all agree that In Hiding is just plain average) but it is seriously flawed and its attempts to get viewers to fall for this pairing are futile.

Poland Passes Country’s First Ever Transgender Recognition Bill

Poland’s parliament have passed the country’s first ever transgender recognition bill.

The legislations was brought to parliament by Anna Grodzka – Poland’s first openly transgender politician. She introduced the Gender Accordance Act in May 2012, and it was finally passed on Thursday (23 July) by 252 votes to 158, with 11 abstained.

Wiktor Dynarski, president of the Polish advocacy group Trans-Fuzja Foundation said

It is a huge victory for trans people in Poland. For the past few days we have seen members of parliament advocating both against and for the law, but it was for the first time that we actually heard Polish policymakers openly protecting bodily autonomy of trans people and recognizing that trans citizens need to have their dignity assured.”

Although the country has legally recognised transgender citizens since the 1960s, the requirements of what it means to be transgender in the eyes of the law have never been specified, leading to a lack of rights for the community.

Under the new law, an unmarried transgender citizen would be legally eligible to apply for a new birth certificate and new educational and employment documentation – without having to undergo surgery or hormone therapy.

However, they would still need to present two independent confirmations of “being a person of a different gender identity than the gender legally assigned” from a clinical psychologist or doctor, before they were able to apply.

For the bill to become law early next year, it still needs to be passed by the senate and signed by the country’s president.

Ms Grodzka announced her plans to run for President earlier this year. She was elected as a Member of Parliament in Poland in 2011, in what is usually a notoriously conservative country.

There are currently no openly transgender heads of state in the world, meaning that Grodzka – who is already the world’s only elected transgender MP – would make history again if successful.

It’s difficult but I need to carry it on…it does affect my private life, it’s quite hard to share my life with another person with so much going on, but at the end of the day this is my life and I’m happy. I hope I can show other transgender people that life is worth living.”

In May, the Polish Parliament again voted against having a debate on the regulation of gay and straight civil partnerships.