June 14, 2020 / 5:02 PM / a month ago

Polish president says foreign media took LGBT comments 'out of context'

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish President Andrzej Duda on Sunday asked international media to “stop distributing fake news” after extensive coverage of a campaign speech in which he compared what he called LGBT “ideology” to Soviet-era communist indoctrination.

Poland's President Andrzej Duda speaks during his election meeting in Solec Kujawski, Poland, June 9, 2020. Picture taken June 9, 2020. Grazyna Marks/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS

LGBT rights have become a hot-button issue ahead of a June 28 presidential election in Poland, with Duda arguing that the promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights needlessly sexualizes children and harms families.

“Yet again, as part of dirty political fight, my words are put out of context. I truly believe in diversity and equality,” Duda tweeted in English on Sunday, tagging media organisations including Reuters, the Associated Press and the Financial Times.

He did not say how his remarks had been misrepresented.

Duda is an ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS), which dismisses LGBT rights as an invasive foreign influence undermining Poland’s traditional values.

PiS has attacked Rafal Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw who is also the presidential candidate of the main opposition party Civic Platform, for introducing a sexual education programme in the capital designed to include teaching about LGBT issues.

On Saturday, Duda said such teachings were a form of “neo-Bolshevism” in a campaign speech in the southwestern town of Brzeg, saying his parents’ generation had not fought communist ideology for decades only for Poland to face a “new ideology (of LGBT rights) that is even more destructive”.

The comments were widely reported by the local and international press, including Reuters.

“Truth has become a scared little creature,” Duda said on Sunday in a series of English language tweets criticising the international media for their reporting of his speech.

Duda said he wanted to see a world “where we can speak our mind, where words are not twisted. I believe in tolerance to any views, so please stop distributing fake news”.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak; Editing by Gareth Jones

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