Also see: Video of Warsaw Gay Pride 2006
1 Polish Activists Plan Gay Holocaust Memorial 1/07
2 Polish government plan own version of Section 28 3/07
3 EU parliament sanctions Polish MEP Giertych for xenophobic pamphlet 3/07
4 By Campaign Against Homophobia 3/07
5 European Parliament To Examine Polish Anti-Gay Law 3/07
6 European official warns Poland over planned anti-gay legislation 4/07
7 "Ban on gay rights march violates human rights" 5/07
8 Second Day of Warsaw Congress 5/07
9 Gay groups to be banned from Polish schools 5/07
11 Campaigners march for gay rights in Poland 5/07
12 Gay Poles march with Pride in Warsaw 5/07
13 Daughter’s adultery rocks moral crusader 6/07 ( non-gay story)
14 Gay Poles head for UK to escape state crackdown 7/07
15 Pride organisers demand investigation into violence 7/07
16 Pride Parade’s marshal changed things in Poland 8/07
17 Polish activists create election list of homophobic politicians 8/07
18 Polish Police Abandon Hunt For ‘Gay Bomber’ 9/07
19 EuroPride 2010 to be held in Warsaw 9/07
20 A new dawn for Poland as homophobes lose power 10/07
21 Homophobic Prime Minister of Poland leaves office 11/07
22 UN Commissioner backs LGBT rights 11/07
23 Poles march for equality as new government takes office 11/07
24 Polish Gay-Hating Twin Out, Homo- and Transphobia Still In? 11/07
25 Poland rejects new human rights charter 11/07
January 16, 2007
Polish Activists Plan Gay Holocaust Memorial…Face Opposition From Both Sides
Following in the footsteps of their Berliner brethren, a group of gay activists in Warsaw have revealed plans to erect a pink triangle commemorating the fagalas and lesbianicas who perished at the hands of the National Socialist party. Now, over 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, founder of Citizens’ Initiative to Commemorate Gays and Lesbians, Lukasz Palucki and his allies has made a push to memorialize thousands of dead:
We have to build this monument so that the people will not forget the thousands of gays who were murdered in the concentration camps of Poland… World War II is evidence that intolerance, anti-Semitism and homophobia lead to concentration camps. History has proved that hated towards other groups leads to homicide… It’s time to commemorate all the homosexuals murdered in Nazi concentration camps. While Palucki and company have the support of a number of Polish politicians and activists, not all of his peers are so gung-ho.
Fellow queer activist and head of Campaign Against Homophobia Robert Biedron worries the monument would only fuel anti-gay sentiment: It is not a wise idea… I think that such a monument can only make people turn away from gay community. It will be taken as litigious.
Meanwhile, some promiment politicians voiced opposition not so much to the monument, but to homosexuality in general. Politician Marek Makuch vented: It is a devastating idea and we shall not agree to this… I have not seen in Warsaw a monument for Catholic priests or disabled people… The triangle would be a promotion of homosexuality. We cannot compare Warsaw with Berlin – Berlin is the capitol of European homosexuality, and here we have our values… Berlin’s the capital of European homosexuality? Must be all the fisting and leather…
While we’re all about a monument for to commemorate the fags and all, Palucki suggests the pink triangle: the symbol favored by the Nazi’s to identify queers. We think that’s a bit tired. It should be something a little more uplifting. Perhaps a phoenix rising from the ashes. Oh, wait, that may not be the best idea…
14th March 2007
Polish government plan own version of Section 28
by Tony Grew
The Polish Minister of Education is proposing a law that would bar the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools. Gay rights activists in the country have spoken out against the EU, saying the organisation is not responding robustly enough to attacks on human rights in the new member states. Roman Giertych, is deputy Prime Minister of Poland as well as Education Minister. He leads the ultra-right League of Polish Families, part of Poland’s three-party coalition government. He was reported yesterday to want to "prohibit the promotion of homosexuality and other deviance."
A Ministry of Education press conference was told by junior Education minister Miroslaw Orzechowski that new laws will, "punish whomever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments." It is thought punishment under the new law will include imprisonment. Roman Giertych recently caused outrage at a meeting of EU education ministers when he openly criticised the so-called "homosexual propaganda" in schools and suggested a EU-wide ban. He claimed to be speaking for the Polish government.
Yesterday his father, Maciej, 70, was censured by the European Parliament for anti-semitism. It was the first time a rule that provides for penalties against MEPs for "exceptionally serious" violations of the Parliament’s principles of mutual respect had been used. Giertych Snr is an MEP representing his son’s League of Polish Families. He published a booklet last month with the EU logo on it in which he asserted that Jews are biologically different from other people and that they "prefer to voluntarily live separately from the communities which surround them." He believes that Jews should not be allowed to live in Europe.
The Education Deptarment’s plans for new laws banning the sympathetic teaching of gay issues has been criticised by gay rights activists in Poland. Robert Biedron, President of Polish LGBT organization Campaign Against Homophobia, said: "I am embarrassed to hear of such a proposal; the issue is taking on more and more dangerous measures with each day, Poland is like an island drifting away from the rest of Europe. When Mr. Orzechowski made this statement about the law, even the journalists asked whether this kind of an "isolation" of LGBT people is a first step and if so, what will be the next? Don’t we already know this kind of a language from not so ancient history?
"It seems that with many other issues the EU is able to respond quickly and exercise the measures which are meant to be exercised if some rules are broken – and what happens when the rules of equal treatment and anti-discrimination are broken? What happens when a Minister of a member state regularly practices hate-speech and encourages intolerance? When will we see the measures taken against that? What else are we waiting for before we finally take action? Are we waiting for increase of data on victims of homophobic violence? Are we waiting for camps for LGBT people? In my opinion, we need to react before things go to extremes, not when they are there already and there is little to save," said Biedron.
In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk last week, Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said there was little the EU could do to pressure Poland into being more tolerant.
"Poland is particularly offensive, isn’t it?" he said. "We have what we call the Copenhagen criteria which as you know means (new EU member states) meeting human rights standards. The trouble is when you let people in, the EU has no way of dealing with it. You remember we sort-of suspended Austria from some of the councils of Europe over right-wing fascism, but we have absolutely no mechanism for dealing with people who want to detract from human rights."
Sir Menzies said it was unlikely that such human rights safeguards could be introduced retrospectively: "I think it would be quite difficult to put it in place now, I mean we are not six anymore we are not 12 or 15, we are 27."
From Monsters and Critics.com
March 14, 2007
EU parliament sanctions Polish MEP Giertych for xenophobic pamphlet
Strasbourg – The president of the European Parliament on Wednesday said he had sanctioned extreme right-wing Polish deputy Maciej Giertych for publishing an anti-semitic pamphlet.Giertych, an influential member of the nationalistic Catholic-based League of Polish Families, received the reprimand for violating parliament’s principles on respect and tolerance. It is the first time that a parliament president has invoked a rule of the EU assembly’s procedures which provides for penalties against MEPs for ‘exceptionally serious’ violations of the EU body’s principles of mutual respect and of the bloc’s basic principles.
Parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering told the EU assembly in Strasbourg that he ‘deeply regretted what is objectively a serious breach of the fundamental rights and in particular the dignity of human beings to which our institution so strongly adheres.’Pottering wrote Giertych that the parliament ‘which thrives on lively political debate and unfailingly condemns all forms of xenophobia should under no circumstances be associated with views published in your brochure. ‘The EP president also said that tolerance and respect for others were important European values to which the EP was deeply committed.
‘During my presidency I intend to safeguard both the freedom of expression and the standard of conduct of members as well as the honour of this house,’ Poettering said.The 32-page booklet ‘Civilisations at war in Europe’, which Giertych published in February, says that Jews are ‘biologically different’ from ‘gentiles’ and ‘prefer to voluntarily live separately from the communities which surround them. ‘Pottering had initially requested an investigation into the financing of the booklet, as it carries an official parliament logo on its cover. But it later turned out that Giertych had not received any EU funding for the book.
The president then took the matter to the parliament’s bureau which agreed that Giertych should be punished for the pamphlet. Maciej Giertych, 70, is the father of Poland’s controversial Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Roman Giertych. The minister is currently preparing legislation to sanction school principals who allow members of gay rights organisations to speak with pupils. Roman Giertych recently also stirred controversy at a meeting of EU education ministers when he openly criticized abortion rights and what he termed ‘homosexual propaganda.’
Giertych, 36, is the leader of Poland’s Catholic-nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR), a junior partner in the three-party populist-conservative coalition government of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
March 14, 2007
by Campaign Against Homophobia
When recently speaking at a meeting of EU education ministers in Heidelberg, Germany, the Polish Minister of Education Roman Giertych (from ultra-right League of Polish Families) left no question about his views on gay issues. He expressed his wish to implement a pan-European ban on "homosexual propaganda" and claimed in the Polish press that he had verbalized the opinion of the Polish government; however upset, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski remained timid in his reaction, but invited Giertych for a "discussion" which was rumored to conclude with his dismissal. Nevertheless, Giertych stayed in the post, stated that they have cleared the situation with the Prime Minister and is ready to continue his work and implement the plans that were set.
On March 13th Polish newspapers delivered the news of the contents of Giertych’s fresh proposal for a law which would "prohibit the promotion of homosexuality and other deviance". Later on the same day during a Ministry of Education press conference the vice-Minister of Education Miroslaw Orzechowski stated that the main goal of the law is to "punish whomever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments ". According to Orzechowski the possible punishments could be dismissal, fine and even imprisonment.
Robert Biedron, President of Polish LGBT organization Campaign Against Homophobia, said: "I am embarrassed to hear of such a proposal; the issue is taking on more and more dangerous measures with each day, Poland is like an island drifting away from the rest of Europe. When Mr. Orzechowski made this statement about the law, even the journalists asked whether this kind of an "isolation" of LGBT people is a first step and if so, what will be the next? Don’t we already know this kind of a language from not so ancient history?"
Biedron also claims that the passivity of the European Union is reaching its limits, "It seems that with many other issues the EU is able to respond quickly and exercise the measures which are meant to be exercised if some rules are broken – and what happens when the rules of equal treatment and anti-discrimination are broken? What happens when a Minister of a Member State regularly practices hate-speech and encourages intolerance? When will we see the measures taken against that? What has happened to the case where a project of a Polish LGBT organization was refused funding from a European Commission programme governed by the local authorities, with the reasoning that the "Ministry of Education does not support the cooperation of homosexuals organizations"? This is a case from September 2006 and until today the Commission has not been able to solve this particular issue."
"What else are we waiting for before we finally take action? Are we waiting for increase of data on victims of homophobic violence? Are we waiting for camps for LGBT people? In my opinion, we need to react before things go to extremes, not when they are there already and there is little to save," says Biedron.
Full Text: translated articles by main Polish media; speech of Roman Giertych in Heidelberg on March 1st
For more information:
Secretary General of Campaign Against Homophobia Member of The Executive Board of ILGA-Europe ul. Zelazna 68
00-866 Warszawa, Poland
mobile +48 602 273 263
tel./fax +48 22 620 83 37
March 21, 2007
European Parliament To Examine Polish Anti-Gay Law
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Brussels – A draft bill to censor all discussion of homosexuality in schools and other academic institutions in Poland is raising concerns in the European Parliament. The bill has been fast tracked by the Polish government and is about to be introduced in Parliament with expectations it will pass before the end of the month.
Discussions of LGBT civil rights and safe-sex practices to prevent HIV/AIDS among gays would be banned. LGBT organizations would be barred from schools and "teachers who reveal their homosexuality will be fired from work." Concerns about the draft bill were raised Tuesday at the European Parliament’s committee on civil liberties. The committee voted to monitor the bill once it is presented to the Polish Parliament and if it passes to hold hearings to determine if it violates European Union regulations on human rights.
"The disturbing proposals to outlaw discussion of homosexuality raise serious concerns about the commitment to fundamental rights in Poland," said MEP Kathalijne Buitenweg, a Green party member from the Netherlands, in a statement. It is shocking that the government of a modern European country would even consider such draconian legislation. The promotion of gay hatred is the antithesis of EU anti-discrimination rules and the Polish government must publicly reject this approach," said Buitenweg.
The draft bill, prepared by the ruling League of Polish Families of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has the support of Kaczynski’s twin brother Lech Kaczynski, Poland’s President. The EU concerns come less than a week after Human Rights Watch sent an open letter to the Prime Minister condemning the draft bill. The proposed legislation follows a series of recent threats and abuses against lesbian and gay Poles by state officials.
In June, the State Prosecutor’s office issued a letter to prosecutors in the municipalities of Legnica, Wroclaw, Walbryzch, Opole and Jelenia Gora ordering in sweeping terms investigations into the conduct of "homosexuals" on unspecified allegations of "pedophilia." In 2004 and 2005, when he was mayor of Warsaw, President Kaczynski banned Gay Pride marches, though the parades were allowed to proceed after administrative courts held the ban unconstitutional. Authorities also banned the LGBT Equality Parade in Warsaw scheduled to take place on June 10, 2006. Wojciech Wierzejski, a member of parliament from the League of Polish Families said last May, "If deviants start to demonstrate, they should be bashed with a baton."
25 April 2007
European official warns Poland over planned anti-gay legislation
Strasbourg – A Polish proposal to ban discussion of homosexuality in schools would violate European law, the European commissioner for equal opportunity said Wednesday. "Such a law, if it were to emerge, would be in contradiction with the European human rights convention and the EU charter on fundamental rights," Vladimir Spidla told the European Parliament as part of a debate on homophobia.
Several Polish parliament members walked out after a vote to suspend the debate failed. Poland’s deputy education minister, Miroslaw Orzechowski, said last month that legislation was being prepared that would lead to the dismissal of teachers who promoted "homosexual attitudes." It would also prohibit gay organisations from providing information in schools on protection from sexually transmitted diseases, the deputy minister said.
Spidla said it appeared the proposed Polish legislation had not yet been formulated. The organisation Human Rights Watch has also criticised the proposal as a violation of basic rights. Meanwhile far-right Polish MEP Maciej Giertych, already in trouble over an anti-semitic tract, published a homophobic pamphlet bearing the parliament’s logo. Entitled "European values" the opinion piece, seen by AFP, states that homosexuality is "biologically useless" and "reversible" as long as there is "the desire to become heterosexual and the spiritual motivation". Gay parades should be banned, he adds.
Giertych offers his support to his deputy education minister’s plan to sack teachers who promote homosexuality. "The EU shouldn’t dictate how we should conduct ourselves on moral issues," he says in the tract. Giertych is the father of Roman Giertych, Poland’s education minister and deputy premier. While both are the masterminds of the far-right League of Polish Families — led by Roman Giertych — Giertych senior sits as a non-affiliated MEP.
In March European parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering reprimanded the euro MP for publishing an anti-Semitic tract also bearing the parliamentary logo. In the earlier pamphlet he argues that Jews "form the ghettoes themselves" resulting in "biological differences." He also argued that Jews backed both sides in conflicts, whereas "we" — an apparent reference to Christians — "fight for justice."
May 3, 2007
"Ban on gay rights march violates human rights"
(AP) The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ruled against Poland for refusing to authorize gay rights rallies in Warsaw two years ago. A non-governmental organization campaigning for gay rights submitted a request to Warsaw authorities to stage a march against discrimination of minorities and various rallies in the Polish capital in June 2005. The group was denied permission on the grounds that they failed to submit a plan to divert traffic from the planned locations. The march went ahead regardless, attended by 3,000 people and protected by the police. But the court said the ban, which could have discouraged people from participating, violated the organizers’ rights to freedom of assembly.
The court also said the ban was discriminatory, as organizers of other rallies on the same day were not asked to submit the traffic plan. The group did not seek any damages. Poland has been under fire recently because of a series of anti-gay comments by senior government officials, including Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski who said that it was "not in the interest of any society to increase the number of homosexuals." The vast majority of Poland’s 38 million people are members of the Roman Catholic church, which considers homosexual behavior sinful. Kaczynski’s Law and Justice party, which won parliamentary elections in September, 2005, has stressed Catholic values. Law and Justice governs in cooperation with the small, right-wing League of Polish Families, which is militantly anti-abortion and anti-gay rights.
Earlier this year Poland’s Deputy Education Minister Miroslaw Orzechowski said that teachers deemed to be promoting "homosexual culture" in Polish schools would be fired and the ministry announced it would draw up corresponding legislation. The comments prompted the European Parliament to vote to send a fact-finding mission to Poland to see whether EU anti-discrimination laws are being breached. No date for the mission has been set yet.
Christian News Wire
May 12, 2007
Second Day of Warsaw Congress — Focus on Threats and Opportunities for Natural Family
Warsaw, Poland – /Christian Newswire/ — On the second day of World Congress of Families IV – at Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science — the focus was on threats to and opportunities for the natural family.
Sessions included: "Media and the Natural Family," "Pro-Family Initiatives;" "Marriage As a Social Good – Why Get Married?", "The Attack On Traditional Marriage," "Impact of Pornography On The Family," "Hollywood And The Family," "Promoting and Protecting The Large Family," "Bioethics – 21st Century Challenge to Human Dignity," "Beyond The Contraceptive Mentality" and "Legalized Euthanasia or Family Care."
Among other notable scholars, researchers, leaders and academicians, the 3,200 delegates from over 60 countries heard from Ewa Kowalewska (European Director of Human Life International), Patrick Fagan (Heritage Foundation), Dana Rosemary Scallon (former MP, European Parliament, Katarzyna Mazela (Forum of Polish Women), Paul Mero (Sutherland Institute), Gwen Landolt (Real Women of Canada), Tobias Teuscher (Political Science Institute, Brussels), Marie-Claire Hernandez (Family and Society, Mexico), Angela Conway (Australian Family Association), Ted Baehr (Christian Film & Television Commission), Fr. Jaroslaw Szymczak (Institute for Studies on Family Science, Poland), Marek Jurek (Speaker of the Polish parliament) and Anatoli Antonov.
In a plenary session address, Fagan declared, "Feminists of Europe take note, the safest place for children is in the natural family. The most dangerous is cohabiting couples."
Speaking on the impact of pornography, Bob Knight of the Media Research Center disclosed: "The leftist wants every aspect of life regulated except sex. Sex advances their reshaping of society." Angela Conway of the Australian Family Association added, "The evidence that pornography causes harm is so obvious that government warnings should be mandatory." And Marie Claire Hernandez added that due to Internet pornography, "We may be facing a tidal wave of lost intimacy, selfishness and crime."
On a related topic, Hollywood and the Family, Don Feder (Communications Director of the World Congress of Families) warned: "Every day, an American industry drops metric tons of toxic waste in your countries and homes. I refer to Hollywood, whose principle products – with honorable exceptions – are sex, violence, perversion, nihilism, attacks on religion and a thoroughgoing anti-family ethic."
As a euthanasia panelist, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, the president of Human Life International, stated, "When in any society, the natural family is denied its basic rights to care for its members or when it is deprived of its social and legal protections, it very soon becomes victim of the aggressive forces that promote killing on a massive scale and stands before these forces vulnerable to their depredations."
As part of the panel on "The Attack On Traditional Marriage," Ben Bull of The Alliance Defense Fund observed, ‘Marriage will be destroyed by making all relationships equal." Fr. Dariusz Oko professor of philosophy at Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, observed that "assistance, compassion, medical counseling" were the only way to approach homosexuality from a Christian perspective." Lynn Wardle, a law professor at Brigham Young University, added, "Legalizing same-sex marriage will drain marriage of its social meaning."
Brad Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, speaking on cohabitation and the well-being of children, noted: "The rise of European cohabitation leads ineluctably to increases in lone parenthood, and we know from recent social science research that lone parenthood poses a threat to the well-being of children in European societies such as Norway, Sweden and England."
Delegates agreed that much needs to be done to counter deleterious trends and make governmental leaders and the general public aware of the indispensability of the natural family.
World Congress of Families IV will conclude tomorrow, Sunday, May 13 with a panel on "Faith and Family — The Vital Bond," and a closing ceremony.
For more information on World Congress of Families IV, go to www.worldcongress.org.
To schedule an interview with Allan Carlson, please contact Larry Jacobs at (011)-423-663-072-673.
Contact: Larry Jacobs, 001-(513) 515-3685; Don Feder, (011)-423-663-060-615; Carol Griesbach, 815-964-5819; all with the World Congress of Families
17th May 2007
Gay groups to be banned from Polish schools
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
The minister for education in Poland has defied a European Parliament censure and plans to go ahead with new legislation banning the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools. The confirmation of plans to ban discussions on homosexuality in schools and educational institutions came from Poland’s education minister Roman Giertych, the leader of the League of Polish Families party. Yesterday he said schools would be told to ban any activity, or group, that propagates, "homosexuality, pornography or other phenomena violating moral norms."
"It is only to protect youth from the propagation of views that threaten marriage, threaten family, and threaten the duties of school, which are to prepare one to fulfil family duties and the duties of a citizen," he said yesterday. However, AP reports that Mr Giertych did not provide concrete information on what would be regarded as "propagation." "Every action that is dependent on the public presentation of a certain belief with the intention of convincing others to that viewpoint," was the definition he gave to reporters.
Last month the European Parliament called for a fact-finding mission to Poland in light of the proposed homophobic measures in schools. Mr Giertych recently caused outrage at a meeting of EU education ministers when he openly criticised so-called "homosexual propaganda" in schools and suggested a EU-wide ban. Labour MEP and gay rights advocate Michael Cashman has compared the Polish proposals to Section 28 in Britain introduced by the Conservative administration of Margaret Thatcher. Mr Cashman, one of only two out gay members of the European Parliament, has said that pressure from other countries can help gay and lesbians in Poland.
"The defence of human rights you can either choose or it chooses you," he told EUobserver. "I went into politics because in 1987 the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher attempted do exactly what Giertych and his mates are attempting now."
May 18, 2007
Warsaw Gay Pride OK’d
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Warsaw – Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz Walz has incurred the wrath of her predecessor, Lech Kaczynski – now Poland’s President and his ruling League of Polish Families, for approving a gay pride parade in the capital. The march is scheduled for Saturday, and organizers had said they would hold it with or without official approval. Walz told Polish radio on Friday that she had no grounds for rejecting a parade permit application. The national government and the ultra-nationalist Catholic Youth Movement had demanded the march be rejected because it promoted immorality. When he was Warsaw’s mayor Kaczynski rejected parade applications from 2004 to 2006.
Walz said the parade would pose no threat to morals and pointed to this month’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that Kaczynski acted illegally and discriminatory in banning the gay pride marches. In 2005 dozens of youths from a militant group were waiting as the marchers arrived at the Parliament buildings and pelted the crowd with eggs. Police struggled to try to regain order, but were vastly outnumbered. Last year, the State Prosecutor’s office issued a letter to prosecutors in the municipalities of Legnica, Wroclaw, Walbryzch, Opole and Jelenia Gora ordering in sweeping terms investigations into the conduct of "homosexuals" on unspecified allegations of "pedophilia."
Earlier this week Education Minister Roman Giertych unveiled draft legislation that would make it a criminal offence to "promote homosexual propaganda" in schools. (story) If passed the measure would essentially censor all discussion of homosexuality in schools and other academic institutions. LGBT organizations would be barred from schools and "teachers who reveal their homosexuality will be fired from work." Giertych’s draft bill, however, does not say exactly would constitute promoting homosexuality.
Giertych defined it as "every action that is dependent on the public presentation of a certain belief with the intention of convincing others to that viewpoint." But critics say it is so vague it could lead to witch hunts.
May 20, 2007
Campaigners march for gay rights in Poland
Gay rights campaigners from Poland and across Europe have marched in Warsaw to protest public and official homophobia in the overwhelmingly Catholic country. Around 4,000 people turned out for the Equality Parade, police said. Many of the participants carried the rainbow flag, the symbol of homosexual rights, and marched under the slogan "Love Thy Neighbour” – the use of the biblical commandant an apparent swipe at ultra-Catholic protesters. There was little sign of the flamboyant dress, including drag, which is a feature of Gay Pride events in other European Union countries where the lot of homosexuals is thought to be better than in Poland.
The annual Warsaw march, which drew only a few score demonstrators when it began in 2001, has a traditionally political edge due to official bans and sometimes violent counter-demonstrations. There were several dozen opposing protesters present on Saturday, most of them members of a far-right youth group. "Five members of the group were arrested,” Warsaw police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said.
Poland’s homosexual community has in the past complained of living in a "climate of fear.” Even high-ranking Polish politicians make openly homophobic statements. "Homophobia is not the exclusive monopoly of Poland. It exists everywhere,” said Sophia in’t Veld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament who was attending the march in a show of solidarity. "But the difference is that here there are prominent government politicians who are creating a climate of hatred and fear against homosexuals,” she said.
21st May 2007
Gay Poles march with Pride in Warsaw
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
Despite the hostile attitude of the Polish government towards the LGBT community, thousands took to the streets in Saturday for an Equality march. Organisers estimate about 20,000 people took part. "This was the largest parade we’ve held in Poland," parade organizer Tomasz Baczkowski said. "Polish society has opened its eyes and they know what democracy, equality and diversity mean." There was a minor demonstration by All-Polish Youth, but they were vastly outnumbered by the Equality marchers. Gay activists and others carried rainbow flags and placards condemning homophobia on their march from the Parliament building to the centre of the city. There was a heavy police presence.
When Warsaw marchers defied a ban and peacefully demonstrated in 2004, skinheads associated with the far-right All-Polish Youth assaulted them. The All-Polish Youth is affiliated with the League of Polish Families, and was founded in 1989 by Education Minister Mr Giertych. The party is in govenment with Mr Kaczynski’s party The Mayor of Warsaw last week rejected calls from the youth wing to ban the Equality march. Hanna Gronkiewicz Walz told Polish radio that any ban would contradict the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.
Earlier this month the Strasbourg-based court ruled that the ban on the 2005 Pride event in Warsaw was a violation of human rights. The seven judges, including one from Poland, were unanimous. The ECHR agreed that freedom of association and assembly, prohibition of discrimination and the right to an effective remedy had been denied, all of which are guaranteed in the European Convention on Human Rights. President Lech Kaczynski, the former leader of the ruling Law and Justice Party, has long opposed lesbian and gay people’s rights to expression and assembly.
When serving as mayor of Warsaw, he attempted to ban Gay Pride marches in 2004 and 2005. He refused to meet with the parade organisers, saying, "I am not willing to meet perverts." The march came just days after Poland’s right-wing education minister Roman Giertych confirmed his intention to bring forward a version of Section 28 in Poland.
17 June 2007
Daughter’s adultery rocks moral crusader
by Hilary Davies, in Warsaw, Sunday Telegraph
A promise by Poland’s president to restore Catholic values and purge communists from positions of power has been undermined by the revelation that his married daughter became pregnant after an affair with the son of a communist spy. The apparent gulf between President Lech Kaczynski’s strict public pronouncements and the relaxed behaviour of his daughter raised eyebrows among critics of his stern conservative administration. The government, headed by the president’s twin brother, Jaroslaw, also stands accused of attempting to manipulate news coverage of the crisis. "This shows an obvious dissonance between the kind of behaviour government expects from its citizens and what is actually going on within their closest family," said Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, a member of the reformed communist party, the SLD. "All those proclaimed Catholic ‘truths’ and sermons we’ve heard from the government about how we should live, what marriage is, how many children we should have, have taken a big slap from reality. Real life is much more complicated."
Lech Kaczynski, 57, took office two years ago after styling himself the defender of traditional Catholic and Polish ideals. His Law and Justice party promised a "moral revolution" and an end to corruption and loose moral standards. Pictures portrayed the president’s family as the embodiment of traditional Polish values. Campaign posters in 2005 showed Mr Kaczynski with his wife Maria, their daughter, Marta, and her then husband, Piotr, and urged voters to follow their model Catholic example. This struck a chord in deeply religious Poland, helping the twins to victory with an agenda that critics say has encouraged racism and open intolerance of such historical foes as Russia and Germany.
Pressure on media critical of the government followed, with high-profile campaigns against anyone suspected of the slightest link to Poland’s communist former rulers.These included often groundless "exposés" of alleged former spies, ranging from the Solidarity trade union leader Lech Walesa to Jacek Kuron, a human rights campaigner. Opponents of the Kaczynskis face investigation and harassment by the government’s anti-corruption bureau. One opposition politician committed suicide during a visit by the bureau’s investigators. But the family image on which Poland’s swing to the Right was forged has been badly dented. It has emerged that Mr Kaczynski’s new son-in-law, Marcin Dubieniecki, is an SLD activist whose father was a communist informer.
The president’s daughter Marta, 27, gave birth to her second daughter last week, two months after her discreet wedding to her lover Mr Dubieniecki. Their speedy and distinctly unCatholic civil marriage followed her equally speedy and unCatholic divorce. Jerzy Owsiak, "Poland’s answer to Bob Geldof", said: "The Kaczynskis have been naming and shaming everyone else. Now it turns out the devil is in their own family. They are small-minded, backward-looking people with no idea what to do with power in modern Poland." Critics see the Kaczynskis’ failure to make their own family live by the rules they want for Poland as a symptom of an unravelling strategy. A law to purge 1.5 million suspected communists from official posts has been ruled illegal. The divorce rate has doubled.
"For all their ambition, they don’t control very much," said Malgorza Zajac, 35, a market research executive in Warsaw. "We have the EU, we have the internet, we are confident. Events like Marta Kaczynski’s new marriage confirm the growing sense they are just ridiculous and irrelevant. Poles want jobs and better pay, but the Kaczynskis are busy fighting condoms and secret agents." The president’s office responded by email: "The press office sees no need to comment on this matter."
July 1, 2007
Gay Poles head for UK to escape state crackdown…Thousands flock to Britain as Health Ministry unveils plans to ‘cure’ them
by Colin Graham in Warsaw for The Observer
Polish gay rights groups claim thousands of homosexuals have fled the country to escape increasing persecution.
Robert Biedron, 27, the head of the Polish Foundation Against Homophobia, said that ‘huge numbers’ of Polish gays had left the country following the rise to power of the right-wing government. He said: ‘It is incredible. The Polish gay community has just left because of the climate of fear and persecution.
‘Most of the people I know are now in England because of the current political situation. Not for economic reasons, but because of the persecution of homosexuals going on here. It’s impossible for gays to be themselves in Poland.’ He added: ‘Around two million Poles have left the country seeking work and thousands of gays are among them. Many gays are approaching our foundation for help in emigrating to the UK.’ Kamil Zapasnik, 22, a gay student who moved to London because he wanted to marry, said: ‘It’s very important to me that I am able to have a civil partnership and adopt children. In the UK I have that freedom.’
Poland’s Roman Catholic right-wing government has openly homophobic members and Polish media recently announced that the Health Ministry had created a special committee responsible for ‘curing’ gays. The Deputy Health Minister, Marek Grafowski, said that the ministry was also planning to identify how many people in Poland were gay and work out a set of behavioural guides to assist parents and teachers so that they can recognise any warning signs of potential ‘gay behaviour’. Polish police have also been compiling a database on gays and the gay community in Poland which, although illegal under EU law, is apparently being done as part of a police investigation into a bomb threat two years ago by a gay man. He had reportedly identified himself as a member of the gay community who was angry when a gay rights march was banned in Warsaw.
‘The police are not allowed to catalogue "homosexual data", but it’s enough to look into the police investigation associated with the bomb in order to establish a list of names and addresses,’ said Ewa Kulesza, a former personal data protection general inspector. It is not just the police who are openly homophobic. Lech Wojtewski, 23, from Warsaw, said his doctor had referred him to a vet when he went to for a check-up. ‘He told me there was a specialist for people like me and gave me an address. When I got there it was a vet.
‘I called him and he said, "What did you expect? You are an animal".’
When Krystian Legierski, 29, opened a gay club, Le Madame, it was shut down by Warsaw local authorities who hired private security guards to break down the doors, despite an appearance there by John Malkovich a day earlier. ‘I understand why people emigrate, but injustice can only be rectified by resistance, not emigration,’ Legierski said.
11th July 2007
Pride organisers demand investigation into violence
by Tony Grew
Gay rights activists in Hungary have accused the police of not doing enough to protect Pride marchers from attacks by homophobic protesters. Last Saturday’s Pride march in the capital, Budapest, was marred by violence against gay participants. Skinheads and fascists massed along the 7km (4.3 mile) route of the march. They threw eggs and bottles filled with sand at the marchers. Later that evening almost a dozen gay people were set upon and beaten.
In a statement to the press, Pride organisers said that the police had failed to take appropriate action: "Contrary to a number of reports and the statement of the Interior Ministry, items capable of causing grievous bodily harm were thrown at the marchers: beer bottles, smoke bombs and molotov cocktails. The counter-demonstrators continuously shouted: "faggots into the Danube, followed by the Jews," "soap factory" and "filthy faggots."
"In the neighbourhood of the event closing the parade dozens of attacks on gays by lingering counter-demonstrators took place. We demand an investigation. We call on the Minister responsible for public order to investigate the case instead of covering up why the police did not protect the marchers and why calls for help in the course of the night were refused." Justice and Law Enforcement minister Attila Piros told Reuters that there was nothing wrong with the procedures used by police to secure the parade. Yesterday the Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky said that he and his political party, The Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), totally condemn the violence, calling the homophobic attackers "intolerant, primitive and cowardly."
"On these occasions, I consider myself Jewish, Roma and gay," he said. Mr Demszky has been mayor of the city since 1990. The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), whose members took part in Budapest Pride, has also condemned the actions of the police. "We consider the actions of the police extremely negligent as all these crimes could be foreseen, yet the police did not make preparations to prevent them," ILGA said in a statement to PinkNews.co.uk
"Violent attacks could be expected in a situation where a provocative extremist group organises a counter demonstration against the pride march. Neither is it a surprise that the extremist groups stayed in the area of the event after the march, and perpetrated violent crimes. We wish to call attention to the long-term consequences of police negligence. The events last Saturday left a general feeling of threat in every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in Hungary who now have reason to be afraid that the police will not protect them when they become victims of hate crimes. Failure to intervene encourages not only the perpetrators from last Saturday to further crimes, but sends the message to other criminals that crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people are permissible."
August 04, 2007
Pride Parade’s marshal changed things in Poland
by Laura Payton and Kate Webb , The Province
This weekend’s Pride Parade will be led by a grand marshal who isn’t used to pride events that draw about 350,000 people. Tomasz Baczkowski, a pride parade organizer in Warsaw, remembers when only three people marched in that city’s first pride parade seven years ago. While Warsaw’s parade now attracts upwards of 10,000 people, Poland remains a tough place to be gay. "The Polish government is always very conservative and the government will do nothing [that] is against the Catholic Church . . . and, of course, this situation for gay and lesbians is not very comfortable," said Baczkowski. While it’s not illegal to be gay, in 2005 Warsaw’s mayor — now Poland’s president — banned the parade because he said it was dangerous for public morality. Baczkowski, married to a German man, said gays and lesbians in Poland have three choices: "We can emigrate, we can just sit and wait for something or we can be active and try to change something. My choice was to try to change something."
Vancouver’s 140-entry parade starts at noon Sunday at Robson and Denman streets, curves around Beach Avenue to Pacific and ends at Thurlow Street. It follows on the heels of the HSBC Celebration of Light finale Saturday night. Alicia Maluta, general manager of the fireworks competition, said attendance so far has been on par with past years. Vancouver police Const. Howard Chow said police are used to dealing with large events and have an operational plan to deal with the crowds this weekend. It includes Mounties, a police boat, bike cops and undercover surveillance officers.
"The message is very clear: Leave your booze at home," he said, adding that police responded to over 400 alcohol-related incidents at Wednesday’s fireworks. The long weekend will be one of the hotel industry’s busiest all summer, said Francis Parkinson of the Vancouver Hotel Association. "It’s a very good weekend for the hotel and restaurant businesses in Vancouver," he said. "A lot of the major hotels are booked up . . . and are recommending Richmond hotels to guests looking for places to stay." firstname.lastname@example.org
23rd August 2007
Polish activists create election list of homophobic politicians
by Tony Grew
LGBT activists in Poland are compiling a list of politicians who have been hostile to gay rights ahead of a general election later this year. The website gaylife.pl is putting together the list, which includes MPs from all sides of the political spectrum. "There’s a parliamentary election coming. We want to enable the gay community to make a conscious choice and this is the reason for creating a list with the names of the people who have hindered us from achieving our goals," Marek Ryszard, of gaylife.pl told thenews.pl website. The current Prime Minister and President of Poland, twin brothers Jaroslaw and Lech Kaczynski, have outraged opinion in the EU with their defiantly homophobic statements.
Their Law and Justice (PiS) party was until recently in coalition with the right-wing League of Polish Families and others. On 13th August President Kaczynski signalled the formal end of the coalition by firing four ministers from two junior parties and replacing them with ruling party loyalists. "The work of the coalition has come to an end," Kaczynski said in a statement. PiS currently have only 150 seats in the parliament’s lower house out of a total of 460. Parliament will vote on September 7th on whether or not to dissolve itself and hold new elections, which will follow within 45 days. The government and opposition are in favour of a dissolution.
According to the latest opinion poll conducted among voters, the largest opposition party Civic Platform (PO) is likely to win the election, but without an overall majority. Therefore Poland could end up being ruled by another coalition or a minority government. Aleksander Kwasniewski of the centre-left alliance LiD told Reuters that the Kaczynski brothers have been bad for Poland. "First, there was disbelief that Poland could end up with such a nationalistic government, then people thought they just could not understand Poland, now this has reached a laughable stage," he said.
Under the Kaczynski brothers Poland has become one of the most openly homophobic countries in Europe. In March this year, at a Polish Ministry of Education press conference junior minister Miroslaw Orzechowski proposed new laws to, "punish whomever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments." He also said that teachers who reveal themselves to be gay, lesbian or bisexual would be sacked. On a state visit to Ireland at the beginning of this year President Lech Kaczynski said that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual destruction of the human race.
His comments were particularly ironic given the persistent rumours about the sexuality of his brother the Prime Minister. As the then Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski banned the city’s gay pride parade in 2004. He refused to meet with the parade organisers, saying, "I am not willing to meet perverts." He also banned the event in 2005 while allowing a homophobic counter-demonstration, the "Parade of Normality." In August 2006, when quizzed by the EU over his gay rights record, Prime Minister Kaczynski said he was not a homophobe. Speaking to reporters after a meeting in Brussels with EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said: "Please do not believe in the myth of anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic Poland this is a media thing – it is not real."
As a condition of entry into the EU, accession states such as Poland had to pass a range of legislation protecting LGBT rights. The statements of both Kaczynskis put Poland on a collision course with the Western states of the EU, most of whom are granting even greater rights to LGBT people. As well as enraging EU colleagues with their anti-gay stance, the brothers indicated they believe in a reintroduction of the death penalty. The twins first came to prominence in Poland as child actors in the 1962 film Two Who Stole The Moon. In October 2006 Polish newspaper Rzeczpolita published secret service documents from 1992 in which Colonel Jan Lesiak is reported to have said: "It is advisable to establish if Jaroslaw Kaczynski remains in a long-term homosexual relationship and, if so, who his partner is."
September 13, 2007
Polish Police Abandon Hunt For ‘Gay Bomber’
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(Warsaw) Polish police say they are dropping the hunt for whoever was behind a series of bombs which later turned out to be fakes that were discovered in four cities in the days leading up to the 2005 presidential election. The devices were discovered after anonymous phone calls to police from someone claiming to be from an organization called the Gay Power Brigade. Thirteen devices were found in Warsaw. Police said that the "bombs" were sophisticated and it took bomb squad experts some time to realize they were not dealing with real explosives. Similar dummy bombs also were discovered in train stations in Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot.
The discoveries caused panic in the streets of all four cities. In a lengthy manifesto sent to Warsaw newspapers and wire services the Gay Power Brigade condemned Warsaw Mayor Lech Kaczynski, who was running for president. Kaczynski had weeks earlier banned Pride organizers from holding a gay pride parade. More than 2,500 people ignored the order and marched through the Polish capital anyway. (story) "You paralyze our life, we’ll paralyze yours," the Gay Power Brigade statement said.
The bomb scare was in part credited with Kaczynski’s election. But as police began to investigate they discovered there was no such organization as the Gay Power Brigade, and liberals and members of Poland’s LGBT community suggested the whole bomb scare was a plat by Kaczynski’s Law and Justice party to gain power. The hoax phone calls to police were traced to a disposable cell phone. The emailed "manifesto" came from a computer at an internet cafe. A hazy picture of a man leaving the cafe was said to have been the likely perpetrator but he has never been identified.
Over the past two years police have questioned dozens of people but have been unable to make an arrest.
27th September 2007
EuroPride 2010 to be held in Warsaw
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
EuroPride 2010 will take place in Poland’s capital city Warsaw. The decision was made at the 14th international conference of the European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA) in Stockholm. The event will be the first Eastern European EuroPride and aims to send a strong message to a part of the continent where equal rights and acceptance of the GLBT community is still minimal. Warsaw Pride was banned in 2004 and again in 2005 by the then-Mayor of Warsaw and now President of Poland Lech Kaczynski. The event has taken place for the last two years without major incident. This has been due to a heavy police presence. Last year’s Warsaw Pride was the biggest yet with over 5,000 participants.
Despite the successful event there has been widespread concern about homophobic and discriminatory comments made by prominent conservative Polish politicians. Last year Michael Cashman, Labour MEP and President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights, publicly called for President Kaczynski to take action against discrimination. It is hoped that the decision to hold EuroPride in Warsaw will encourage the government in Poland and neighbouring countries to address LGBT rights.
"Other cities such as Moscow and Riga have to learn that it is unacceptable in Europe to prohibit gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders from appearing in public," said Robert Kastl, President of EPOA. The discrimination, the bigotry and the right-wing and religious extremism against GLBT people in all of Eastern Europe has to stop! EuroPride Warsaw 2010 will be a symbol for all these countries."
Next year’s EuroPride will be hosted by Stockholm and takes place July 28th to August 3rd. The theme will be "Swedish Sin, Breaking Borders". London hosted the event in 2006. Snap parliamentary elections will be held in Poland on 21 October, as the current parliament has been dissolved two years into its four year term.
22nd October 2007
A new dawn for Poland as homophobes lose power
Poland will have a new Prime Minister after Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his Law and Justice party conceded defeat to Civic Platform. Record numbers of Polish voters went to the polls yesterday to elect both houses of parliament, the 460-member Sejm and the 100-member Senate. Polling booths stayed open for three extra hours in some parts of the country to cope with the numbers wanting to vote. It was the highest voter turnout since Poland became a democracy again in 1989. Kaczynski’s controversial term of office comes to an end after only two years. However, his twin brother Lech, President of Poland and an outspoken opponent of gay rights, remains in office until 2010.
The League of Polish Families, a junior partner in the former coalition government and the most outspokenly homophobic party, did not meet the 5% threshold and now have no seats in Parliament. While in government League party leader Roman Giertych was deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister. Earlier this year he caused outrage at a meeting of EU education ministers when he openly criticised the so-called "homosexual propaganda" in schools and suggested a EU-wide ban. He was reported to want to "prohibit the promotion of homosexuality and other deviance."
Civic Platform, led by former Presidential candidate Donald Tusk, will form the next government. They won 205 seats in the Sejm and are likely to form a coalition with the agrarian Polish Peasants Party. "We went into this election in order to make everyone, without exception, feel good in their country, in their home," Mr Tusk said. "I thank everyone who, in an impartial way, has helped restore hope among Poles."
Civic Platform are a conservative party, and they plan to halve the number of MPs and introduce a flat tax. They support the EU and are committed to withdrawing the 900 Polish troops stationed in Iraq. While socially conservative, they are unlikely to engage in the targeting of gay people seen under the outgoing government. Mr Kaczynski promised that his party would be an effective opposition.
6th November 2007
Homophobic Prime Minister of Poland leaves office
by Gemma Pritchard
Jaroslaw Kaczynski has handed in the resignation of his cabinet, officially bringing an end to the Law and Justice-led government who had been in power in Poland since autumn 2005. Prime Minister Mr Kaczynski handed his resignation documents to his twin brother President Lech Kaczynski, during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw yesterday. His resignation follows Justice and Law’s defeat in elections held last month. According to AP, the outgoing prime minister said he was resigning with his Cabinet after what was an "exceptionally difficult" tenure. He summed up what he said were his government’s achievements in economics, domestic and foreign affairs, but insisted the public had failed to fully understand what had been accomplished.
"We worked in very difficult circumstances, making it difficult for many citizens to find out the truth," Jaroslaw Kaczynski said. "We can finish our term with our head held high," he said toward the end of a nearly 30-minute speech. The results, not just in words but in reality, are good."
The president said he would only accept the resignation after the newly elected parliament meets later in the afternoon. The outgoing prime minister was expected to present his resignation to lawmakers as well. The president, whose term is separate from that of his brother’s and runs until 2010, will then face the duty of tasking the man who defeated his brother, Donald Tusk, with forming the next government. He plans to do so later this week, presidential spokesman Michal Kaminski said.
Mr. Tusk, head of the pro-market and EU-friendly Civic Platform party, defeated Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law and Justice party on October 21, winning 209 seats in the 460-seat lower house of parliament. Civic Platform lacks an outright majority and has been in coalition talks with the centrist Polish People’s Party, known in the past as the Polish Peasants’ Party. Tusk has begun to reveal some of the politicians he has picked for his Cabinet, including Radoslaw Sikorski, a former defense minister in Mr. Kaczynski’s government, for foreign minister, according to an interview published Monday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily. Mr Sikorski resigned from his job as defence minister in February after falling out with the Kaczynskis.
The Kaczynskis have called several controversies within the LGBT community. On a state visit to Ireland at the beginning of this year Lech Kaczynski said that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual destruction of the human race, while Jaroslaw has also been known to make homophobic remarks during his political career. As the then Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski banned the city’s gay pride parade in 2004. He also banned the event in 2005 while allowing a homophobic counter-demonstration, the "Parade of Normality." In August 2006, when quizzed by the EU over his gay rights record, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said he was not a homophobe.
His resignation will put an end to homophobic legislation proposed by the Kaczynski government. The first test for the new government will be November 17th when the March of Equality in Poznan (Western Poland) is planned. In 2005 the police in Poznan detained and interrogated 65 demonstrators during the March of Equality organised by leftist and gay activists.
12th November 2007
UN Commissioner backs LGBT rights
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has spoken of her support for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. Louise Arbour made her comments after an historic meeting at the UN last week. The event, held in parallel with the session of the third committee of the UN General Assembly, discussed the Yogyakarta Principles. Named after the Indonesian city where they were adopted, the principles were introduced by 29 international human rights experts at a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva in March 2007. They refer to the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and address issues such as rape and gender-based violence, extra-judicial executions, torture and medical abuses, repressions of free speech and discrimination in the public services.
Ms Arbour said in a statement: "Next year we will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – an occasion that provides an ideal opportunity to recall the core human rights principles of equality, universality and non-discrimination. Human rights principles, by definition, apply to all of us, simply by virtue of having been born human. Just as it would be unthinkable to exclude some from their protection on the basis of race, religion, or social status, so too must we reject any attempt to do so on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Yogyakarta Principles are a timely reminder of these basic tenets. Excluding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from equal protection violates international human rights law as well as the common standards of humanity that define us all. And, in my view, respect for cultural diversity is insufficient to justify the existence of laws that violate the fundamental right to life, security and privacy by criminalizing harmless private relations between consenting adults. As such, I wish to reiterate the firm commitment of my Office to promote and protect the human rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Last week’s event brought together non-governmental organisations, UN representatives and state delegates, and was an initiative co-sponsored by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The Yogyakarta Principles call for action from the UN human rights system, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organisations, and others. Last year 54 states called for the UN Human Rights Council to act against egregious violations of the rights of LGBT people.
19th November 2007
Poles march for equality as new government takes office
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
LGBT rights activists were joined by politicians from green and left-wing parties on the annual Equality March in Poznan, western Poland, on Saturday. More than 300 people, carrying rainbow flags and banners, took part in the peaceful demonstration in Poland’s fifth-largest city, with only a few counter-demonstrators on hand to protest. It was seen as a key test of the new government’s attitude to gay rights events. In 2005 the police in Poznan detained and interrogated 65 demonstrators during the March of Equality.
This year, the fourth annual march, more than 400 police were on hand to protect the marchers. On Friday Donald Tusk was appointed Poland’s Prime Minister under a new conservative-liberal Civic Platform (PO) government. Gay rights activists have asked Mr Tusk to consider legalisation of civil unions, the introduction of comprehensive sexual education in schools and the ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation. While many predicted that the new Prime Minister would usher in an era of reform, others remain cautious but hopeful. Although the PO is looking to repair ties with the European Union, it takes a similarly conservative position to the former ruling party, the right-wing Law and Justice, on many issues such as abortion and gay rights.
Former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his twin brother, Lech Kaczynski, the current President, caused controversy within the LGBT community for their anti-gay stance. The pair banned several gay pride marches in the country and on a state visit to Ireland at the beginning of this year Lech Kaczynski said that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual destruction of the human race.
Polish Gay-Hating Twin Out, Homo- and Transphobia Still In?
Poles oust a homophobic government in parliamentary election.: Popular trans performer denied her right to vote.
The new government will not sign the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights with its principle of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.
by Tomek Kitlinski
Archconservative and antigay party led by PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski lost the parliamentary election in Poland on October 21, 2007. Does this end the rule of prejudices in this country? The European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights with its principle of non-discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation will not be signed by Poland ’s new government. In his three-hour-long inaugural address in parliament, the new PM Donald Tusk on November 23 made no reference to the rights of women and sexual minorities.
Transphobia transpired in the polls: When transgender Rafalala came to vote, she was denied her ballot right. At a Warsaw polling station Rafalala presented her ID which showed a man Rafal and didn’t match her gender. Rafalala, 26, is a performance artist and writer who put up a successful solo show in Warsaw ’s major theatre Polonia in September. For the election, she wore a blond wig and a black dress. The returning officer said, “You’re not the man on the ID photo,” and didn’t allow Rafalala to cast her ballot.
”I live in a country where I have to stop being myself in order to vote”, Rafalala commented on her blog. The denial of vote to Rafalala made headline news across Poland . The transgender artist Rafalala told me, "I am very sorry that I couldn’t vote. I felt badly when I was prevented from voting. The problem lies not in me, but in the institutions here which function in a wrong way. There are many hostile reactions. But fortunately, the Polish society is changing. I get smiles from people on the tram or in a cafe. On the media forums, the are extreme opinions against me, but there are also voices of support."
Founder and president of the country’s biggest LGBT organization Campaign Against Homophobia, Robert Biedron told me, "I am proud of Rafalala that she remained herself during the election. She began a serious debate in Poland about transgender rights. We badly need such a discussion in this country. There are many stereotypes here. But all in all, the society in Poland is more enlightened than our politicians." The Campaign Against Homophobia issued a statement signed by Robert Biedron: "Transgender sexual identity should not be apretext for exclusion from the opportunity of participating in the election."
Fear and loathing of “otherness” is structural to the rule of the identical twins, Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who became Poland ’s President in 2005 and Prime Minister in 2006 respectively. President Lech Kaczynski remains in power until 2010. In Poland and abroad, the President said that “with the promotion of homosexuality, the humankind would die out.” As mayor of Warsaw , he banned gaypride twice. His twin brother Jaroslaw called gay prides “abomination”, repeated that “Marriage is a union of a man and a woman” and in the election recent campaign tried to scare voters into rejecting his pro-European opponents the Civic Platform that supports the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the major TV debate before the election Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the Charter would introduce to Poland “homosexual marriages and euthanasia.”
After being denied the voting right, Rafalala was interviewed for Poland ’s biggest newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, “When I returned home, I was sorry. I felt sad and defeated.” In Poland transgender people face humiliation, harassment, social exclusion, high fees for surgery and for legal changes of documentation, violence. In the industrial city of Lodz a homeless transperson was murdered by neo Nazi skinheads on September 21, 2003. Suicide among the transgender people is rampant. Poland lacks sexual education at schools condom ads in the media, and all in all, tolerance. Prejudiced perceptions of the LGBT community dehumanize us.
In the parliamentary election, the party of Premier Jaroslaw Kaczynski was defeated: it earned 32 per cent of the vote, while the Civic Platform won 41 per cent. The turnout was very high for Poland ; it was the younger generation which turned the polls into a plebiscite against the government which used religion as political weapon. Rafalala told Poland ’s biggest newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, “Recently Mr. Kaczynski with Mrs. Kaczynski knelt in a church and tried to pray with a crowd of journalist around. When I pray, this is a very intimate thing. I ask God, bargain, thank.” Phobias were fueled by the outgoing government. Just after it was sworn in, the government-controlled police in Poznan cordoned off gay activists on November 17, 2005.. The far-right All-Polish Youth swarmed around and shouted, “Fags to gas! We’ll do to you what Hitler did to Jews!”
The police didn’t mind the anti-Semitic and homophobic catcalls, but stormed and arrested sixty-five gay priders. Deputy PM and Minister of Interior Ludwik Dorn expressed his recognition to the police. In October 2007 in Wroclaw far-righters threw butyric acid at participants of “Gays, Lesbians, and Friends” Festival.
The All-Polish youth, responsible for hate speech and deed in the country, is a youth organization of the extreme right political party, the League of Polish Families, which formed government coalition with the Kaczynski twin. Far-right prejudices were in the mainstream of Poland ’s politics. Asked about the election results, president of the Campaign Against Homophobia, Robert Biedron, told me, "I am glad that the time of hatred is gone. But I am afraid that the Civic Platform may continue homophobia — this time, homophobia with kid gloves. Voting for the Civic Platform meant voting for the lesser evil. The worst queer-haters like the League of Polish Families didn’t get to Parliament — and that is very good. But we would like the new government to be more LGBT-friendly."
The far-right League of Polish Families isn’t part of the new Polish Parliament, but it sits in the European Parliament. The League’s Eurodeputy Maciej Giertych eulogized Spain ’s General Franco and railed against homosexuality. His father Jedrzej was an anti-Semitic activist in the 1930s, author of a 1938 pamphlet where he argued for the expulsion of Jews from Poland , whereas his son Roman is the current leader of the League and reactivated the All-Polish Youth which in the interwar period had beaten Jewish and Ukrainian students at Poland ’s universities. Until recently Roman Giertych was minister of education; his pet aversion was each and every form of LGBT culture which he called “homosexual propaganda.” From the Polish school’s assigned readings he deleted the works of Polish gay writer, Witold Gombrowicz.
Director of the film on the love of Verlaine and Rimbaud Total Eclipse, Agnieszka Holland said for the daily Gazeta Wyborcza, “Officially the stranger, Jew, the evil one has changed today into the homosexual. In the dominant language and in the language of Mr. and Mr Kaczynski and of Mr. Giertych, homosexuals play the part of the pre-war Jew. And in the manner in which anti-Semites decided who is Jewish, they now decide who is gay and who is not.” Agnieszka Holland was born into a Jewish family of intellectuals and made the movies Copying Beethoven and Secret Garden . The League of Polish Families is anti-gay, anti-Semitic, and anti-contemporary art. League members physically attacked one young woman artist, Dorota Nieznalska, and then the party brought charges against her for “offending religious feelings.” She was sentenced to community work and banned from leaving the country. Nieznalska and many queer artists participated in Love and Democracy exhibitions in Gdansk and Poznan .
Love and Democracy
Curator of the shows Pawel Leszkowicz wrote: “Cultural history tells plural stories of gender,sexuality, and love. The exhibition Love and Democracy looks for this forgotten heritage in contemporary Polish art. There are many kinds of love which should have a place in democracy. The artworks in my exhibition portray love and life in relationships between woman and woman, man and man, woman and man.” This year in Poznan the same curator presented in the GK Collection exhibition a number of sexual images from Bruno Schulz to Andy Warhol to Dorota Nieznalska. Both Love and Democracy and GK Collection featured Maciej Osika’s transgender self-portraits. Art plays a prominent part in Poland ’s political debate as it is critical, opposed to anti-LGBT politicians and media; in fact, artists are perceived in Poland as sexual dissidents.
George W. Bush is a role model for the Kaczynskis. They keep Polish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan . Archconservative rhetoric, introduced by Giertych, is used in education. Poland ’s younger generation is in an ideological and economic crisis. One million Poles have migrated to Britain and Ireland . The young, in particular queer, massively flee Poland . Some declarations of the politicians victorious in the polls augur ill for lesbians and gays in Poland . “No agreement to privileges for homosexuals” was a title of an interview with one of the leaders of the party Civic Platform which has won Poland ’s parliamentary election and new vice speaker of the Polish Parliament, Stefan Niesiolowski. He was interviewed on November 8 for an influential daily Rzeczpospolita.
He said, “In Poland there is no discrimination of homosexual persons. Claims about its existence don’t make sense and are baseless. This is a constant tactics of the organizations which lie to society and try to convince it that homosexuals are persecuted. In fact they demand privileges, for example, a possibility of homosexual marriage or adoption of children. This is a way of advertisement and giving voice to one’s own life style which isn’t liked by the majority of society.” He added on gay marriage, “In the Civic Platform there was no official discussion on this subject [gay marriage], but the utterances of leaders don’t leave a doubt. It is impossible. For me, marriage is a union between a man and a woman and no one will convince me that it is otherwise”. Niesiolowski concluded on gay pride, “The participants use the demonstration to provoke the rest of society. This is a matter of demonstrating contempt for the Church, the norms of morals and manners. The milieus that demand tolerance are famous for intolerance for others and aggressive behavior.”
The general climate of the media is hostile to LGBT culture. More liberal than Rzeczpospolita, Poland’s biggest daily Gazeta Wyborcza reviewed on November 9 Angels in America: “Kushner shows everything from a viewpoint so exotic to us that only a playwright from Mars could outdo him. This is a viewpoint of a leftist New York gay intellectual for whom Reagan is an embodiment of evil, Gorbachev is a savior of humanity, the Rosenbergs are victims of persecution, and sex with a man is something of which every guy dreams secretly, but not every man admits to it.” In the same issue Gazeta Wyborcza critiqued Transamerica which hasn’t run in Poland ’s cinemas, but will be presented on cable Canal+. The LGBT community is seen as threat to the nation, as un-Polish, in fact, anti-Polish. Now the antigay nationalist Jaroslaw Kaczynski, 58, was defeated by the modern Donald Tusk, 50. His Civic Platform is right-wing, free-market-oriented, male-dominated: in the new government there are only four woman. Generally, Poland ’s politics isn’t woman-friendly: since 1993 abortion has been criminalized. Will the new government continue heterosexism?
This is also a worried question about Eastern Europe . In Latvia , which introduced a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, LGBT marchers in Riga last year were pelted with bags of excrement. Contemporary art is suspect in Russia (the trial of conceptual artist Anna Alchuk). Gays are hurt at every pride in Moscow . Our love, our identity is disrespected, hurt, humiliated. Politicians consider homosexuality a foreign infection in the pure national body. The LGBT community is perceived as danger to the morality of post-Soviet Eastern Europe .
26th November 2007
Poland rejects new human rights charter
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
Gay activists in Poland have spoken of their dismay that the country’s newly-elected government are to continue the policy of opposition to the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights. Before coming to power earlier this month Donald Tusk had signalled he would sign up to the charter, which broadly mirrors the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. Former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski of the Law and Justice party had claimed that Poland was "culturally different" from their EU partners, especially when it came to the rights of LGBT people and the use of the death penalty, and refused to sign up.
In a TV debate during the campaign Mr Tusk pledged to sign Poland up to the EU Charter. However, in an address to the Polish parliament last week Prime Minister Tusk said he will honour the commitment of the previous government and join the UK as the only nations in the 27-member EU to opt out. The charter will become legally binding on EU institutions such as the European Court of Justice as part of the new Reform Treaty agreed by the EU heads of government in Lisbon last month. It will be signed in the city on 13th December. The treaty needs a two-thirds majority vote in the Polish parliament to become law, which requires the Law and Justice party to support it. For this reason the government decided to retain the opt-out.
"Poland is not going to protect its citizens on equal level as 25 other EU member states," said Tomasz Szypula, Secretary General of Campaign Against Homophobia. In Poland there’s no anti-hate speech, anti-hate crime, anti-discriminatory laws which mention sexual orientation and now there won’t be the Charter of Fundamental Rights."