Polish athlete and his wife welcome the birth of a child

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PALMA DE MAJORCA, Spain (AP) – When Polish Olympic athlete Jolanta Ogar-Hill and his wife decided to have a baby, it was obvious to the two of them that Poland would not be the place to raise their child.

In recent years, ruling right-wing politicians and religious leaders in the traditionally Roman Catholic nation have escalated hostile rhetoric towards LGBT people, especially to mobilize conservative voters ahead of the election.

“The government is doing everything it can to instill fear in people,” said Ogar-Hill, who won a silver medal in the 470 women’s sailing category with her teammate Agnieszka Skrzypulec at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last summer.


So she and her Spanish-British wife, filmmaker Chuchie Hill, have instead taken up residence in Mallorca, Spain.

In November, they welcomed a girl into the world, allowing a photographer to be present for some of their most intimate moments, from time spent together at home before birth to when the girl they have. named Hunter was born by Caesarean.

It was the last chapter in their long love story.

They met in Palma de Mallorca in 2015 while filming a documentary directed by Hill. Their next meeting was months later and at the end of that year they started a relationship. They tied the knot in 2018 at their favorite place in Mallorca – a restaurant in the bay of Palma. For the athlete, it was a symbolic gesture.

“It was a statement of what I wish I could do in my country,” Ogar-Hill said.

She says she has lost friendships in Poland because of her sexual orientation and that she could not live there as openly as in Spain.

“We would be subjected to a lie and we would not be able to have the freedom that we have in Spain,” the couple wrote in an email.

Spain has some of the most advanced laws in the world when it comes to protecting gender identity and sexual orientation. Social attitudes are also largely welcoming. Yet statistics show that attacks on the LGBTQ community in Spain are either on the rise or their reporting has increased in recent years, which many activists say is the result of the homophobic stance of a far-right party. .

In contrast, in Poland, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people only believed a few years ago that they were on a path that would ultimately lead to more rights. But recently they have instead been faced with allegations from leaders, including the president, that they are defending a dangerous foreign “ideology” that is corrupting the country’s youth.

Several Polish cities and provinces have declared themselves free from “LGBT ideology” in mostly symbolic statements that were dropped, in some cases, when the European Commission froze millions of euros in funding.

The government’s stigma against LGBT people has led many Poles to come out of the closet or join in the pride celebrations, but many, especially in rural areas, still do not feel safe.

Some, like Ogar-Hill, have chosen to leave Poland entirely.

Yet even in Spain, their path to parenthood has not been easy. Some local friends disagreed with their decision as a same-sex couple to have a baby. But after a few exchanges, they think they have changed their minds.

Elsewhere in Europe, parenthood often remains a Kafkaesque challenge for same-sex couples, facing additional bureaucracy compared to heterosexual parents.

In a push for the rights of families with same-sex parents, the highest court in the European Union ruled last week that a child with two certified mothers in one of the bloc’s 27 countries must also be recognized by other members of the EU as such.

Hill gave birth to Hunter on a rainy November day in Mallorca with Ogar-Hill by her side.

According to Hill’s mother Esperanza, who joined the couple in hospital, Hill was just as nervous as he was in an Olympic final. The first time Hill told her mother about her gender identity, they both cried, with the daughter fearing that she would not be understood and her mother because she feared her daughter was in pain. Still, Hill says she always felt her mother’s support.

The couple want their own daughter to grow up to be a strong, independent and happy woman. At the moment, they don’t see her living in Poland – not like it is now.

“We want Poland to change and people like us and our daughter to be able to live there without fear of being psychologically or physically assaulted,” they wrote.

They gave Hunter a middle name, Nadzieja. In Polish, it means “hope”.

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