Krakow for Everyone...
Being gay in Poland is like being a Michael Bolton fan at a metal concert: it's looked down on, not something you announce in a crowd of skinheads, and might get you beaten up. But then, outside of the most liberal European and American metropolises, it's difficult to be gay in most of the world. However, living in a deeply Roman Catholic country can make things more arduous for anyone with an alternative lifestyle.
Historically, unlike in many other Central and Eastern European countries, homosexuality was never punished by law in Poland - but to say it was tolerated is a stretch. During the Communist years, homosexuality wasn't a problem, because according to the government it didn't exist. Until 1991, homosexuality was listed as a disease. Today, legally homosexuality is allowed, and the age of consent for gay (or straight) sex is 15 years. Gay and lesbian couples do not need to register their partnership, but adoption by gay or lesbian couples is not permitted. Prostitution, however, is legal. Meanwhile, Article 32 of the Polish constitution prohibits discrimination against Polish citizens for any reason, though it seems the average Polish citizen finds that article as optional as speed limit signs on the highway.
Above: A look at 2007's Tolerance March shows that not everyone is for tolerating others...
Even in larger cities like Krakow or Warsaw, abuse against homosexuals is not uncommon, whether verbal or physical. Reporting cases of violence to police is rarely beneficial as well, as often the case occurs that the police themselves will ridicule or simply ignore the individual - which explains why more than 85% of cases of violence go unreported. According to statistics from a report by the Campaign Against Homophobia, slightly under 20% of homosexuals surveyed had experienced some level of violence, with a slightly larger percentage for men than women; however, this is down from over 22% in 2000. The majority of physical violence is pushing or kicking, but many have reported being punched or beaten up as well. In addition to physical violence, psychological violence like taunting, mocking, threats, etc., is almost if not as harmful as physical violence, and so common that sometimes it goes completely unnoticed. Sadly, it's not uncommon to hear derogatory names used for homosexuals in Poland even today.
But the picture isn't completely bleak. Granted, Poland's homosexual community has two major factors working against them: Poland's strong Roman Catholic heritage, preserved even today in 95% of the population; and the fact that Poland (like all of former Eastern Bloc Europe) never had a sexual revolution in the 60s-70s like in the U.S. or UK. The latter factor also works against feminism in Poland, though acceptance of the equality of women has taken root more so than the acceptance of homosexuals (which is still not saying much).
However, in the years since its independence from the Soviet Union Poland has made remarkable progress, if you consider that countries like the U.S. have had gay rights movements since the 60s, and yet there are places in the South that are far more dangerous for homosexuals than anywhere in Poland. But residue from 45 years of Communist anti-homosexual propaganda does not wash off that easily, and just as the Communist government condemned homosexuality, the current one, led by a centre-right coalition, does so with perhaps even more ferver - at least when the extreme-right members of the League of Polish Families have anything to do with it. Recently, in addition to banning books by Polish writers that were written by anti-nationalists or homosexuals, the Minister of Education, Roman Giertych, has called for the ban of teaching anything that involves "the promotion of homosexuality," including tolerance education. Any teacher who violates the law can be fired, fined, and even imprisoned - and you can forget about being homosexual and being a teacher in Giertych's regime. Luckily, while Poland is a member of the European Union, it is still subject to the Union's regulations, including the respect of human rights for all and the protection against unequal treatment on the basis of a person's sexual orientation. Since Giertych's new policies were announced, the European Parliament has asked Poland to stop public leaders inciting discrimination against homosexuals. But sadly, it's not just the propaganda of a few extremists in the government; many older Poles still view homosexuality as a disease that should be 'cured' by prayer and repenting or counselling. Homophobia is deeply ingrained in the Polish psyche, and the government and the Church are only worsening the situation.
But for a country as homophobic as Poland, the gay rights movement is surprisingly strong and well-organized, especially in recent years. While in 2004 and 2005 the "Equality Parade" in Warsaw was banned by the then Mayor of Warsaw and today the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, it has proceeded in the past two years with fewer and fewer incidents of violence. Also, recently Kaczynski's move was ruled as illegal by the Court of Human Rights. In Krakow, which has a reputation of being the more liberal big city in Poland, when the parades were banned in Warsaw and Poznan, they were allowed in the city, though the first few years they were marred by many incidences of violence and protests. The Tolerance March, which was met with violence and throwing of eggs, rocks, and faeces resulting in several injuries in 2006, went off with very little conflict in 2007. Granted, the fact that there were as many counter-marchers as marchers, largely led by the LPR's young soldiers in the All-Polish Youth, demonstrates that our city still has a long way to go before the Tolerance March becomes a Pride March.
So what's the reality? To say that the homosexual visitor should be terrified and constantly hide his or her identity is as preposterous as advising one to make out with their partner in a room full of All-Polish Youth members. Caution should always be observed, of course, but in general younger people, especially in Krakow, are more tolerant and friendly. We've compiled a list of gay-oriented and gay-friendly venues below where one will always feel welcome regardless of orientation. In addition, there are dozens of laid-back and tolerant bars and cafes, particularly in the hipper Kazimierz district where Krakow's more alternative youth tends to gather.
We also compiled a list of websites of GLBT organizations and different portals where Poland's homosexual community communicates on the web, and are good starting points for meeting people before coming to Krakow. While at the moment the major organizations for promoting gay rights in Poland are The Culture for Tolerance Foundation and Campaign Against Homophobia, gay rights groups are growing in strength and in number every year, and the sheer number of gay-oriented Polish websites is a sign of the coming change. So if you're a gay visitor to Krakow, we welcome you, and hope you'll only experience the positive side of life in Krakow.
Krakow's gay and gay-friendly venues:
Bars and Clubs
ul. Wielopole 15/4
Perhaps the most well-known "gay club" in Krakow is Kitsch, though in recent years it's become more of an after-party place for straight partiers than gay and lesbian revellers. Luckily, you can always count on grabbing a drink here at 4 in the morning, and the dance floor is always packed, and always tolerant - even if it's not quite gay.
ul. Sw. Filipa 7
Cracow's most long-standing gay club, and considered the best by many in the gay community. NOW CLOSED.
ul. Gazowa 21
What used to be Cocon Music Club has re-opened as Club Coco. Open only on Friday and Saturday nights, Coco is the place for dancing through the night while bathed in a sea of coloured lights.
ul. Berka Joselewicza 21c
From the creators of Kitsch comes a club as gay as Kitsch used to be!
ul. Krowoderska 31
Hidden discreet club for men only.
ul. Bozego Ciala 10
Gay-friendly cafe with an underground dance floor.
Friends Guest House:
ul. Bozego Ciala 10
At the moment, this is the only gay-friendly hostel in Krakow, offering central location and gay staff who will point you to the best spots in town. In general, however, as hostels tend to be laid-back and tolerant by definition, other hostels in Krakow welcome gay and lesbian guests as well.
+48 (12) 2945699
2nd Floor is an exclusively gay guest house, offering simply furnished but comfortable and stylish apartments and rooms.
Polish GLBT Organizations and Websites:
The Culture for Tolerance Foundation organizes the Tolerance Festival every year, which is the largest queer festival in this part of Europe and the March of Tolerance is only one of 30-40 events they provide every year. The 5th anniversary edition of the festival will take place from the 23rd to 27th of April 2008. The Culture for Tolerance Foundation also holds weekly meetings 'Pro: kreacje', every Wednesday at Teatr Nowy (ul. Gazowa 21).
The Culture for Tolerance Foundation: www.tolerancja.org.pl
Campaign Against Homophobia: www.kampania.org.pl
Poland's gay portal: www.gay.pl
Lesbian and feminist portal: www.lesbijka.net
GLBT portal, events: www.innastrona.pl
Lesbian Coalition (LBT): www.porozumienie.lesbijek.org
Positively homosexual portal: www.homiki.pl
Women for Women: www.kobiety-kobietom.com
Independent lesbian and bisexual portal: www.lesbijka.org
GayGuide Cracow: www.cracow.gayguide.net - A guide specially catering to the gay or lesbian traveller. Also available for Warsaw, Prague, Sofia, and Budapest.
If you know of other particularly gay-friendly places in Cracow, please let us know; and feel free to post your comments about gay Cracow on this page below. We encourage different viewpoints and want to hear your thoughts about the gay cause in Cracow (though we won't tolerate abusive or hateful comments). For more information about pro-gay organisations and events in Poland, visit www.tolerancja.org.pl. You can also download a PDF of the Campaign Against Homophobia's "Situation of Bisexual and Homosexual Persons in Poland - 2005 and 2006 Report" here. We've included a few Poland-specific GLBT websites above, though many are only in Polish. We hope they'll be a helpful resource; if you know of any other helpful websites, let us know as well!
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Teddy Bear type guy likes to hug:-) I’m available in Krakow till 24th of Dedon’t hesitate to contact with me:-)Reply
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Witam. Mam 53 lata i będę w Krakowie od 6 września do 12 września, czy mężczyzna powyżej 60 roku życia ukaże mi piękno Krakowa?Reply
Witam. Mam 53 lata i będę w Krakowie od 6 września do 12 września, czy mężczyzna powyżej 60 roku życia ukaże mi piękno Krakowa?Reply
Looking for gay guys for coffee during the day in Krakow.Reply
I’m a 47 years old gay will be in karakow from the 19th till the 28th of July looking forward to meet guys from 24 till 40 years old to discover gay life in Karakow Plz contact me if any is interestedReply
Alguna pagina fiable de guia Gay ? estaré finales de julio y primeros de agosto. Any reliable gay guide page? I will be late July and early AugustReply
I'm in Krakow between 1 and 10 July. Would like to meet a guy for entertainment and more ..Reply
I'm in a tiny town in the UK, people really don't seem to give too much for being LGBT and it's not a liberal city metropolis. I don't have to be in Bristol to be treated right. Poland needs to guarantee lawful punishment for ill treatment of LGBT individuals.Reply
My greatest experience in Krakow was Club Cocon. Enjoyed very much. I am working in Olkusz at the moment and searching for going-out opportunities. So in case you are working also for IMI or in the surroundings, please find me on Facebook or at the company!:)) Regards: Laszlo SzepeReply
Thank you for the honesty. I really loved to show my love with my mouth, and use my tongue:) Regards Tamas Kasza Iqss Kft SzentendreReply
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Good article. I have never had a problem here in Krakow. Welcoming pubs for me are the bulldog, piano rouge, pianola bar and of course Blue XL on ul dietla 85Reply
Hiya will be in Poland in August 16 any gay hippies want to meet up for a cool week thanksReply
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60yo faithful Catholic guy will be in Krakow on Sep 01 to 06, and would like to meet a man between 35 to 50. No drinks or bars. Enjoy outdoors activity. I will plan to go Lacko - Poland apples yards.Reply
I WILL BE IN KRAKOW IN MAY 21 TO 25 WOULD LIKE TO MEET MAN OVER 55+Reply
Couple late 30's in Krakow 6/7 February 2015 looking for other lads same age or younger for drinks/dinner dates/more! Snowboardudes3 at BTinternet dot comReply
Hey, do people use Grindr in Krakow? Can some people comment here and let me know? Many thanks!Reply
I'm a nice 45 year old guy staying in old part of Krakow this weekend looking to meet a nice Guy when there.Reply
I read some place that 7 club is not gay anymore. So when you guys say its open again, do you mean its gay or just open and straight?Reply
Club Seven is open again. Thursday was quite nice and everyone was friendly.Reply
I was in Krakow last week. The Kitsch and Plastic are closed now. Blue Bar is a nice bar with some darkrooms. An interested place with nice music. Sauna Spartacus is a nice place for rainy days. Not modern, a little sauna, but the atmosphere is convenient.Reply
7 Club is Open now! Seven Club, sw. Filipa 7 street, is open now everyday from 2pm!Reply
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I shall stay in Krakow from 11 July to 18 July and I would like to become friends with a young boy/man then. I will stay at a hotel close to the old town.Reply
We want to stay four days in Krakow, next august 4th, 5th and 6th. We're looking for a local guide in this town, to show us Krakow city, museums, interesting places... and bars. We're two spanish boys, and we would like to meet polish boys and girls. Thanks.Reply
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Enchanting Krakow is still sophisticated so, if you act in the same way you are at no greater or lesser risk of being abused as you would be in any comparable city in the UK. Sadly, many "gay" people have an uncanny need to appear so, and advertisement of any sort receives reaction, for or against, I'm afraid. Ed RReply
Couple tourist, Warsaw 1 / 5 january Kcatowice 5 / 7 january Krakow 7 / 10 january Warsaw 10 / 11 january To know gay places and beautiful polish gay....cruising places and nice people....spanish spoken better!Reply
dal 12 gennaio in cracovia mi farebbe piacere trovare qualcuno che parli la lingua italiana in grado di darmi informazioni su locali etc... grazie....Reply
Hi , would like to meet older men (55+) i kracow during 23-27 Mars 2013. Prefer older active men . Open for alwost anything .Reply
Hi! I come from belgium. Next September i'll go to Krakow for 6months. It would be great to drink some glasses in Bar or pub gay :)Reply
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I am not Polish and I am in Krakow till 2nd of July.Reply
i am not in krakow until june if you will still be there??? Are you polish of another nationality?Reply
I am an erasmus student in Krakow. I want to see some gay bars in here. Anyone who wants to join me?Reply
Let me be clear: I am not gay. But as a journalist, I am concerned by the anti-gay feelings in Poland. I heard about the wish of some gay-groups to have separate places during the EURO 2012. How can I get in contact with the people who took this initiative? I would like to make a story about this topic during the Euro. YvesReply
I'm thinking of going to live to Krakow for three months because of my studies. But after hearing about that homophoby I'm a bit scared... Would you recommend Krakow for a young, discret gay?Reply
Hey in Krakow this evening leave tomorrow. Wondered if anyone was looking at going out tonight?Reply
Visiting from Canada, Staying in Krakow from Aug 30 until Sep 1st. Would be cool to meet some people and surf the city and bars in the evening.Reply
goin to krakow tomorrow for a week -_- joyyyReply
I'm in Cracow now. Staying till 2morrow and want to meet some1. I'm sitting in Pozytywka now and will be crawling till late evening :)Reply
Nice website.. In krakaow for a few days July 12-14. Want to meet a few guys.Reply
I will be in Krakow from 8 to 11 august and like meeing for funReply
GREAT WEBSITE!! very informative....I'll be in Krakow for a month...July to August....hope to party with you all!!Reply
ariving in Krakow June 15th. Would love to meet some fun locals and go out.Reply
i will stay at Krakow till october and want to meet some people)Reply
I am new in town and looking to have as much fun as soon as possible with everyone in this wonderful city.Reply
I am arriving today in Cracow.Reply
i will be in krakow for 2 months, since feb 20th. would like to meet up..Reply
will be in Cracow from friday 4 feb and saturday 5 feb. looking for a place to stay and visit and also nice gay bar ? me - slim young guyReply
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coming to Cracow with my gf 3-5 of Dec'10 would like to meet if anyone interested :)Reply
Great pages of info.. Coming to Cracow Oct 25th-27th. want to meet up with like-minded men.Reply
i am coming to Krakow in Feb next year and am wondering what the gay bars and clubs are like can anyone help me I like the sleazy scene but also the non sleaze as well thenksReply
I am coming to Cracow on the 18th to the 20th of September.Would like to have fun and meet intersting people...Reply
Just arrived in Krakow. 47 years old. American. English and German speaking. 5 foot, 7 inches. 150 pounds (68-69 kilo) Greek heritage. Wouldn't mind doing something other than attending boring meetings. Send me an email or write a posting. I'm staying at the Radisson Blue.Reply
Hi.. visiting Krakow in mid Oct 2010 would be great to meet up with others who know the place or there the same time..Reply
ciao... will be in Krakòw from the 8th to the 12th of September... anyone wishing to hook up for some fun in one of my favorite cities?Reply
Hey everybody, I'm Dan from Italy. I will be in Cracow from the 7th to the 11th of September 2010. I'm looking for friends to visit the city or going to clubs, pubs or saunas. Please contact me by email to: email@example.comReply
Does anyone ever get a response from these comments/postings?Reply
In Krakow on the 2/8 2010 looking for some fun?Reply
Hello, visiting Crakow from 4-11 Aug with friends going to a wedding. I have a few nights free. Any suggestions and friendly contacts(non sexual)?PatrickReply
hi I'm 20, and i'm gonna be spending my thurdsay night in krakow on my own the 29th-30th... im not looking for sex but just one or two good places to meet young gay folks who like dancing and talking as much as i doReply
Arriving on July 10 leaving on July 12 to another city nearby. If anyone cares to meet Saturday night, email me. 45 and handsomeReply
In Krakow from 4 - 9 July. would like to know best places to meet gay guys aged 30 - 50.Reply
im in krakow now.. just arrived today looking at opening up a business out here.. anyone any ideas on whats here for the gay people?Reply
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I am visiting Krakow for 4 nights - 16 to 20 September. Staying in hostel. Looking for information, tips on gay life in Krakow. Profile gayromeo/deepskinReply
hey.29yo of Mauritian origin. i am visiting Krakow on Monday and Tuesday 21st and 22June. Would be nice to meet some locals. firstname.lastname@example.orgReply
Visiting Warsaw and Krakow in early July. Would love to meet some locals to show me the club scene, etc. I'm 37 years old.Reply
I am making preparations to travel from California to Krakow in September/October. Would like to hook up with someone that has knowledge of the Krakow and the surrounding areas. EdReply
Hi i am coming over on 8th june for 2 nights with str8 friends hoping to b in the kitsch bar,on the tuesday, will b wearing all white......give me the eye for fun and frolics...lolReply
I like what is being said in the emails, i myself am looking to visit, date and find a polish b/f who wants to come to teh uk. are there any dating sites i could look at that would help in my quest of love??? please help lost and lonley in englandReply
My email address is email@example.com for message below:Reply
I will bve coming to Krakow from England on 14th July 2010 with my mate for 3 nights. Would love to meet for a few beers and be shown some good places to go. Get in touch. dave xReply
looking 4ward ti visiting 10june 2010 with my partner.Reply
I live in the north east of scotland (small oil capital of europe) Aberdeen.... we have lots and lots of polish people living in and around the city...( the guys r sooo hot and sexy) I love polish guys the more the merrierReply
im off to Krakow tomorrow for 4 nights. any tips?Reply
2 gay guys - 48 and 45 coming over again to on 10-14 May 2010 - would be great to meet up with some polish guys (30-40) anyone fancy a drink and show us around the City? Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgReply
My bf and me are visiting in March and love to meet others and have fun im btm my bf is topReply
Hot French guy visiting Krakow in April. Interested in meeting young top guys. Love long hard ass pounding.Reply
Hi, I'm in Krakow for 3 days, and I would like to see a nice place tomorrow evening : where to go on saturday night? ;) I'm 30 and hope to see a nice guy... :) See you : email@example.comReply
You should give your email so we could talk!Reply
My BF and I are travelling to Kracow in early Feb for a city break. We'd also like to check out one or two gay bars/clubs for some fun and are looking for up to date info on where to go? Suggestions welcome.Reply
Fit, attractive Welsh couple looking for some norty fun from Sun 06th, any offers?Reply
Hey.. I am planning to travel to Cracow sometimes in Feb.. would like to make some friend and who can show me around.. give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can chat :) I am Thai but study in UK, swimmer for uni :) give me a shout if ur interestedReply
Hi I'm visiting Krakow from Nov 19th -22nd and would like to hook up with some friendly masculine guys for fun times and just hanging out basically. I'm, tall, handome and in good shape. Get in touch, cheers.Reply
im visiting krakow from 11 to 15 december. Maybe i meet someone, lol. Give me a chat or mail......Reply
Ooops, see note below...it helps to put in my email address: email@example.comReply
Visiting Krakow from Nov 7-11th and would like to meet a nice guy. I'm very muscular, athletic, and handsome. A picture would be appreciated with email. Will send mine in return. Please email if interested.Reply