Warsaw - Post Report Question and Answers

Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are ongoing protests and discussions about LGBT rights and women's rights within Poland. Poland is a highly homogenous country, which also impacts how they interact with people that are not European. - Oct 2021

Poland isn’t very diverse. It’s predominately white. You see the most diversity when you are at the malls. I never saw any inequality displayed but I did hear about it a few times. It was never anything serious but it was along the lines of being very rude and giving the cold shoulder. - Jan 2021

The Polish population is extremely homogeneous and the current political climate is generally unfriendly to minorities, especially non-white minorities, and ESPECIALLY against Muslims. Individuals who wear non-Christian religious garments, such as turbans, hijabs or burkas, are rarely seen and may draw attention or be subject to outright discrimination by some locals. In terms of women's rights, abortion is illegal. - Sep 2019

I heard that non-whites occasionally felt uncomfortable, or at least stared at a lot. They are clearly foreign. The local soccer hooligans have been accused of anti-semitism. But I never heard of anything bad actually happening, just rumors. - May 2018

Definitely a homogeneous society as in white, Catholic and heterosexual. No actionable racism or prejudices observed but it is under the surface in some places. - Apr 2018

Not so many Roma or refugees here. - Dec 2016

Yes. Poland is 98 percent white, nearly that percentage "ethnically Polish" and nearly all Catholic. They just aren't that used to anyone who is different. And some, of course, are just plain racist. However, there are a few people of other colors/ethnicities in Warsaw.

I am white, so I have no personal experience with prejudice. However, I am pretty sure that if you look different here, you can at least expect to be stared at sometimes. And there IS a significant right-wing nationalist movement going on here at the moment. So, take all that into account. - Mar 2016

Some. Poland has the world's most homogeneous population, and the recent migrant crisis has exposed some xenophobic ugliness, but people of color generally live without harassment. Still, there have been incidents of defacement at the Jewish cemeteries and at the only mosque in the city. Polish culture does differentiate strongly between gender roles in family life, but thankfully not in professional life. As a woman, I have had to get used to never touching a door handle but other than that, I have no problems. - Sep 2015

Generally no, though as I mentioned I'd be lying if I said racism does not exist. See my earlier comments. The Catholic Church is extremely influential here and it's not at all uncommon to see religious symbols displayed in public buildings. No city hall or police station is complete without a crucifix on the wall - usually more than one. Catholic religious education is also taught in public schools, if that tells you anything. I'm not aware of other religions having that same access in the schools. Although you do see Muslims in the city they are a small minority and I believe there is only one mosque in all of Warsaw, which pretty much appears to exist to serve the diplomatic community. I know there was another one people were trying to build but there was a lot of opposition to it. I also think there is only one functioning synagogue in Warsaw. I don't personally hear anti-Semitic comments though it's not uncommon to see negative stereotypes of Jewish money counters on display in Old Town or other areas where artwork and crafts are sold. As a man, I can say that it seems women generally enjoy a lot of equality overall thought it's definitely still pretty much a male-dominated society in many ways. - Nov 2014

Poland is mostly Polish these days, but with a significant Asian, particularly Vietnamese, population. No outward racial problems but there still seems to be some naive anti-antisemitism. It's not uncommon to see an "ethnic" painting of "Jew with Grosy" (counting money). Most Poles don't see this as offensive. But again nothing hostile. - Feb 2012

At their core, Poles have some lingering racial and ethnic anxieties against non-whites and Jews. It's a very white and Catholic country. You also won't be very welcomed if you are Russian. - Nov 2011

None noted. - Aug 2011

I have not seen any untoward reactions personally from the local population. - Aug 2011

I think it is fine. It is a matriarchal society, so it is customary to greet women first. - Mar 2011

If you are Hispanic or Black, you will get the looks. But I haven't heard of any racial issues. - Jan 2011

People who are non-white will get some stares, just because almost everyone here is white. - Dec 2010

People get stared at big time, but I haven't heard of any attacks or anything like that. Poland is 98% ethnic Pole, so there are very, very few Poles who are anything but white. - Feb 2010

Overall I would say no. Warsaw is a very cosmopolitan city with thousands of Africans, Asians, South Asians, etc. Skinheads do exist, and their presence can be seen if you go to the outskirts of town or to soccer games (in fact the Legia Warszawa team was banned from several championship matches due to skinhead violence). As was recently posted, those with spouses from the former Soviet Union should be prepared for some cold receptions when meeting Poles. - Aug 2009

There is not a lot of diversity in Poland. It is predominantly Polish, Catholic people. Minority friends of mine have been stared at to some degree but I think it's just curiosity. - Jun 2008

Anti-Semitism does exist here but largely among certain segments of society (the ubiquitious skinhead/far right clique and Radio Mariya listeners). However, by and large most Poles condemn such views and many here believe that the government has taken great strides to make up for the past and has a very strong relationship with the Jewish community. The government is quick to condemn any and all manifestations of anti-Semitic violence and places big importance on preserving Holocaust/Jewish sites. However, it does get a bit tiring to see artistic renditions of old Jews counting money at the local art markets. There are large groups of African and Indian students, as well as a pretty large Vietnamese contingent here and they seem to get by pretty well. Those with former Soviet spouses should keep in mind that old memories are alive and well here and should expect some coldness/rudeness from Poles. One such spouse who came her not speaking Polish had problems before she learned Polish. - Apr 2008

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