Gay Poland News & Reports 2011

1 Love Does Not Exclude – About the campaign 2/11

2 Love Doesn’t Exclude in Small Towns 2/11

3 LGBT History month remembers classic lesbian novel 3/11

4 Equality Parade marches through Warsaw 6/11

5 A Refracted Rainbow 6/11

6 Poland’s first transgender MP will fight for equal rights 10/11

7 Poland swears in first transsexual and gay MPs11/11

February 2011 –

Love Does Not Exclude – About the campaign

The aim of the campaign is to draw attention to the fact that Poland has no civil partnerships law, and Polish legislation provides no regulations for same-sex couples.

Today, Poland is the biggest European Union Member State in which same-sex couples are invisible for the law. The law ensures no legal protection to them, does not regulate their situation, takes in fact no account of their existence. This is unfair. This is an exclusion – in many areas of life. Poland is also one of the very few European countries where the authorities have not taken up any measures whatsoever in this area. One of the aims of our campaign is to show that legal frameworks for same-sex relationships are a European civilisational standard and that social evolution in this area has not bypassed Poland. Our law, however, does not follow the reality in this respect, and the authorities refrain from any dialogue with the society at large and with our interest group.

Love Does Not Exclude” is therefore an expression of this very pressing social need – the voice of those who are invisible to the law and ignored by politicians. For half a year now we’ve been hearing that a debate should be held in the Polish parliament, but will this happen before the parliamentary elections? Will the government and the opposition listen to their electorate?

The creation of – any – legal framework for same-sex couples in Poland is an increasingly urgent issue. We don’t want to keep pleading or asking. With the “Love Does Not Exclude” campaign we want to show that the time of demanding has come. We have the right to equality! We don’t want to be excluded any more! We demand civil partnerships law!

Another aim of our campaign is to show that a social action can be carried out without official grants or European funding. The background of our activities consists of voluntary work and donations – even the smallest ones – from our sponsors, both companies and private persons. We want to show that even the tiniest gestures count and that the fight for civil partnerships can be fought in all scales, large and small. The “Love Does Not Exclude” campaign, consisting of four elements (social networking on Facebook and Twitter, billboards, webpage, public event), is founded on its recipients – ordinary people who care for changing the Polish reality.??We don’t want to end up with just few posters displayed for one month, one webpage (among millions of others), a glimpse of media attention. Join us! Come to the protest, talk to your friends about the situation in Poland, make your politicians aware of the problem, and if you can, support us financially. Don’t be indifferent; get engaged – even with the smallest gesture.

Love does not exclude! We demand civil partnerships! Let the campaign last as long as needed – until we reach our aims.?


February 16, 2011 – Wojciech Szot

Love Does Not Exclude Campaign

Our campaign is a hot topic in Poland! We were in five towns! Recently in buses in Walbrzych, on billboards in Przemysl, local newspaper in Inowroclaw. In this month campign is going to Sopot (population about 38000) and Kolobrzeg (45000).

In the town of Inowroclaw (northern Poland) an outdoor company refused to accept our posters. But a local weekly published without any problems a half-page advertisement: six same-sex couples with our slogan: We demand civil partnership law.

Today the most popular Polish newspaper, “Gazeta Wyborcza” published an interview with a campaign spokesperson.

Also see:
Posters here
Internet advert of campaign with English subtitles
Brief information about campaign

February 2011 –

Love Doesn’t Exclude in Small Towns

by Wojciech Karpieszuk
In the town of Inowroclaw (northern Poland) an outdoor company refused to accept our posters. But a local weekly published without any problems a half-page advertisement: six same-sex couples with our slogan: We demand civil partnership law. Today the most popular Polish newspaper, “Gazeta Wyborcza” published an interview with spokeperson of campaign. Here is excerpt from this article.

Wojciech Karpieszuk: Where did you get the idea for the campaign from?
Wojciech Szot, campaign spokesperson: We thought about an awareness campaign about civil partnerships. We didn’t want it, however, to concern tolerance or respect, but everyday problems of gays and lesbians – the ones that the state creates for us, only because of our sexual orientation.

You placed on the posters images of gays and lesbians when they were kids.
First we published billboards with such photos and the slogan: „When they grow up, they won’t have equal rights”. After two weekend we changed that into photos of the same persons as adults, with their partners. And a new slogan: „We demand civil partnerships law”

Why did you come up with the idea of photos with kids?
Most people have kids, or siblings, or their friends have children. Everybody can stop in front of the poster and think „These can be my kids.”

Originally the billboards were to be only in Warsaw.
Yes. Our first idea was that the posters would direct people to the website explaining the idea of civil partnerships. We knew we couldn’t afford to much because billboards are expensive in Warsaw.
We literally begged for money, donations. We asked companies that advertise, e.g., on gay portals. Some money was donated by an Internet bookshop, some by a travel agency.

[…]There was a significant response on our website, both from LGBT and straight people. We received a lot of e-mails from outside Warsaw, from smaller towns.

So you thought about getting with the campaign to smaller towns?
On one hand, yes. And on the other hand we realised that Warsaw was too expensive when it came to billboards. The posters would hang for a month and nobody would notice. So we decided to go „into Poland”. We organised an Internet voting to select the towns where our posters would appear. The assumption was that in each administrative region (województwo) we would select one location of 20-100 thousand inhabitants.

So you went „into Poland” to educate people. And?
In the town of Inowroclaw (northern Poland) our posters were to be placed on buses. They haven’t, because the outdoor company refused our materials. Their argument was that because of our posters, buses would be demolished. They were mainly worried about their cheap plastic poster frames… Local media got interested in the situation; when interviewed by a radio station about the campaign, the head of the outdoor company aske the journalist „And you, do you advertise escort agencies in your radio?”. I was struck dumb.

But you managed to get through in Inwroclaw.
We did! Our advert was published in the local paper, Express Inowroclawski. It’s a weekly with loads of advertisements about selling houses, or buying chickens. And there we were, half-a-page advertisement” six same-sex couples with our slogan „We demand civil partnership law.”
What do people write to you?
The rule of „as you’ve made your bed so you must lie in it” seems to work. Many young gays and lesbians are out in their environments in small towns, people know about them at home, in schools. In Inowroclaw a radio station made a small street poll, asking passers-by what they thoughts about civil partnerships. Half of the respondents were positive. They didn’t mind the poster. Negative opinions came from fear of difference – „fags!”, no arguments. It’s the decisionmakers that are afraid – mayors, school headmasters. But in Inowroclaw no authority protested. Maybe the political correctness worked?
What will your campaign change?
I guess I’m supposed to say „of course we have to fight, the campaign will change a lot, etc.”. But, realistically speaking, changes depend on politicians, and this social group is non-reactive, they don’t notice the reality around them. As long as those politicians who should lobby for civil partnership act adopt the ostrich-like policy, nothing will change. I’m afraid the LGBT community will once again be treated instrumentally, because parliamentary election is close. And I wish those political parties that are so vocal about civil partnerships now, returned to the topic after the elections.

3 March 2011 – PinkNews

End of LGBT History month marked in Warsaw by remembering classic lesbian novel

by Christopher Brocklebank
Ric Todd, the British Ambassador to Poland, visited the Polish National Library this week to mark the end of LGBT History Month and view their copy of Radclyffe Hall’s groundbreaking 1928 lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness.

In a meeting with the Polish deputy director for development, Ms. Katarzyna Slaska, Mr Todd discussed how Poland had decriminalised homosexual relations as early as 1918, while it took another almost half-century in England and Wales, with the Sexual Offences Act of 1967. As reported by the British Embassy in Warsaw’s website, the copy of Hall’s novel in Poland’s National Library was brought to the Mr Todd’s attention by Clare Dimyon from PRIDE Solidarity,

The Polish translation, with a preface by Irena Krzywicka, was first published in 1933 by the Rój Publishing House. In a recent Lesbian Lives conference organised by the University of Brighton, the story of a Polish Holocaust survivor and her connection to the book came to light: “I had a chance to read The Well of Loneliness that had been translated into Polish before I was taken into the camps. I was a young girl at the time, around 12 or 13, and one of the ways I survived in the camp was by remembering that book. I wanted to live long enough to kiss a woman.”

Ms Dimyon said: “These 2 or 3 sentences and this book are the only fragment we have of this woman and this astonishing story of survival.”

12 June 2011 – The News

Equality Parade marches through Warsaw

Several thousand people marched through central Warsaw on Saturday as part of the 10th annual Equality Parade in support of sexual minorities in Poland. The demonstration by LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons) and those opposed to homophobia and discrimination marched from outside the Parliament building to Plac Bankowy, accompanied by colourful floats and blaring music.

Politicians from the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) took part as did NGOs such as the Campaign Against Homophobia, alongside families, cyclists and a group of nurses who proclaimed on one banner, “Homophobia is curable”. Among the demands of the demonstrators was the adopting of a law on civil partnerships, reforms in sex education in schools and a demand that the government more actively fight discrimination against sexual minorities.

British Ambassador in Warsaw, Ric Todd, told the crowd that the parade is not "against anybody or anything but for diversity and equality," after which a spontaneous verse of God Save the Queen was sung by supporters. Outside the parliament building and at Plac Bankowy several hundred counter-demonstrators held up banners saying "Eurosodomia has no future". Police reported that the parade and counter demonstration passed off peacefully.

June 13, 2011 – Human Rights First

A Refracted Rainbow
: Attacks and Bans on Gay Pride Parades (Updated)

by Fighting Discrimination Program
As we enter the “Pride Season,” with LGBTI events planned across the globe, we’ll update this page with news from gay pride marches threatened by private violent acts and state restrictions.

Split: Gay Pride Under Attack (c) Vojko Bašic/CROPIX
(6/23/11) In Saint Petersburg, Russia, city officials denied a permit for a Slavic Gay Pride event. Meanwhile, in Moscow, police detained more than a dozen people, mostly women, holding solo pickets and distributing leaflets in support of gay rights. The Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Kostyuchenko, who made headlines by coming out as lesbian in May, was among the detained activists.

(6/12/11) In Split, Croatia, thousands of ultranationalist supporters gathered to protest the town’s first gay pride on June 12. Counterdemonstrators quickly overpowered the police, throwing rocks, firecrackers, bottles, and trash at the marchers. While the police created a buffer zone to protect the marchers, the organizers felt this was not enough to prevent violence, which left five people injured. At least one hundred counterdemonstrators were detained in Split. Croatia’s President and Prime Minister condemned the violence in Split, which came only a day after the country received a final approval for its entry into the European Union in 2013. A further investigation into the attacks has begun. On June 18, a second Croatian pride parade was held in Zagreb. Over 2,000 people attended and no incidents of violence were reported.

(6/11/11) In Warsaw, Poland, the police worked to protect the pride demonstration on June 11. Counterdemonstrators tried to throw firecrackers and shouted antigay slurs, which did not stop the parade. Last year, the police similarly had to intervene to protect the marchers in the city that has a decade-long history with gay pride events (including two episodes when the parade was banned in 2004 and 2005, in violation of three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights).

(5/28/11) In Moscow, Russia, the authorities denied permission for a Moscow gay pride event for the sixth consecutive year in May. City officials cited numerous letters from public officials, religious organizations and private citizens urging the authorities to prohibit a demonstration. Similar bans were pronounced illegal by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in October 2010. On May 28, a small gay rights demonstration was attacked, leaving several injured, by a crowd of ultranationalist / Orthodox / neo-Nazi supporters. The attackers were not found; instead, the police detained thirty demonstrators who rallied for gay rights in Russia.

Why Pride Parades?
Gay pride parades offer an opportunity for many LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) individuals to exercise the right to freedom of expression. First organized in New York City in commemoration of the Stonewall riots, pride parades have come to symbolize the resistance to intolerance and bigotry that surround LGBTI people in their daily lives.

Some governments continue restricting peaceful demonstrations by denying permits to organizers of pride marches. While such restrictions are damaging and unacceptable, the authorities have a positive obligation to protect those who exercise their right to free assembly. Thus, LGBTI individuals’ legal right to organize pride events must not be either hindered by government officials or impeded by violent attacks of private individuals.

Despite significant improvements over the past decade, we continue to witness both restrictions and violent attacks on pride parades. Gay pride parades and events, particularly in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union have resulted in political diatribes attacking people of minority sexual orientations from political and other leaders, inadequate police protection, and acts of harassment and violence against the participants. Police is often the difference-maker when counterdemonstrations gather to protest against the pride marches.

17 October 2011 – PinkNews

Poland’s first transgender MP will fight for equal rights

by Staff Writer,
Anna Grodzka, Poland’s first transgender MP, says she will seek equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. The 57-year-old, who was elected an MP for Krakow last week, said she would make the Catholic country more accepting. Speaking to Associated Press, she outlined legal recognition of relationships, employment protections and funding for sex reassignment surgery as her goals.

Homosexuality is legal in Poland but gay couples cannot adopt children and there is no rec ignition of gay marriages or civil unions. Ms Grodzka, a member of the Paillot Party, is thought to be the world’s only sitting transgender MP. She did not come first in the poll but as the party’s top candidate for Krakow but won her seat under the proportional representation system.

8 November 2011 – BBC

Poland swears in first transsexual and gay MPs

Poland’s first transsexual member of parliament has been sworn in, in what has traditionally been a socially conservative country. Fifty-seven-year-old Anna Grodzka was previously a man, known as Krzysztof, before having surgery in Thailand. Poland’s first openly gay MP was also sworn in, following the general election in October. Analysts say the electoral success of the party they both represent is a sign of the waning influence of the Church.

The party, the Palikot Movement, has taken a strong anti-clerical stance, criticising Roman Catholic priests who get involved in politics. It surprised many observers by winning 10% of the vote in the general election, making it the third largest political grouping in the Polish parliament.

Anna Grodzka, quoted by the Associated Press, said the voters "wanted a modern Poland, a Poland open to variety, a Poland where all people would feel good regardless of their differences. I cannot fail them in their expectations." Palikot campaigned for the legalisation of abortion, gay marriage and marijuana.

Church power challenged
Many people have argued that its success shows the Roman Catholic hierarchy is out of touch with Polish youth. "It’s a real signal, especially about young people, that the form of religion presented sometimes in Poland by the Catholic Church is not well addressed to young people," says Maciej Zieba, the former head of the Dominican Order. "
Obviously it’s a challenge, it’s a problem – not how to fight with anti-clericalism but how to preach the Gospel."

Anna Grodzka says the response to her election has been mixed. "When I’ve met people on the streets, I’ve mainly had a favourable reaction. Of course there’s also been aggressive behaviour too," she says. "It’s been a little worse in political and media circles that don’t always understand the problems of transsexual issues and they try to use the fact I was a man against me."

Robert Biedron, Poland’s first openly gay lawmaker, has said he will campaign for legislation to tackle discrimination against gay and transsexual people in Poland, and to legalise civil unions for gay couples.