Warsaw regime’s violent homophobia singled out amidst rightist wave
The European Parliament at Strasbourg last week voted to condemn Poland and its government for homophobia. The condemnation came in a resolution regarding the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe which was offered by the Socialist group, the EuroParliament’s second largest political formation.
The resolution passed by a vote of 301 in favor to 161 against, with 102 abstentions.
The condemnation specifically cited “the declarations by a leading member of the League of Polish Families inciting violence against GLBT people with a view to the march for tolerance and equality.” The League, a notoriously homophobic and anti-Semitic party, is a member of the ultra-conservative ruling coalition government in Poland led by President Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother Jaroslav, who controls the Polish Parliament.
A vice-president of the League, Wojciech Wierzejski, a front-bencher in the Polish Parliament, had notably targeted the Warsaw Gay Pride March for Equality held June 10, saying, “If the deviants will start demonstrating, they need to be bashed with a thick club.” (For full background on the rising climate of homophobia in Poland, see this reporter’s story “Poland’s Criminal Probe of Gays,” in the June 8-14 issue of Gay City News at http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_523/polandscriminalprobe.html)
An editorial in the June 11 New York Times, “Poland’s Bigoted Government,” condemned the country‘s “right-wing nationalist government that seems intent on violating the rights of minority groups, beginning with an attack on gays.” The newspaper cited Wierzejski’s declaration and actions by President Kaczynski’s regime as evidence that the “government’s actions give an official wink to bigotry.”
The EuroParliament’s resolution also demanded that European Union representatives at the upcoming G8 summit meeting “raise the issue of human rights with Russia as a matter of urgency, in particular the right to demonstrate peacefully.” This was a reference to the Moscow mayor’s ban on the May 27 Gay Pride March in the Russian capital, which was violently broken up by police and fascists, with its organizers arrested.
The resolution included a list of recent homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and racist murders and violent attacks in Europe, saying the Parliament “condemns” all such attacks, and “expresses its solidarity with all victims of such attacks and their families.”
Among the other incidents specifically condemned by the EuroParliament was “the horrific torture and murder of Gisberta, a transsexual living in the Portuguese city of Oporto, in February 2006, by a group of adolescent and pre-adolescent minors.” The Parliament “urg[ed] the Portuguese authorities to do everything in their power to punish those responsible and fight the climate of impunity with respect to this and other hate crimes.”
Also mentioned in the resolution was “the attack against Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi of Poland, which took place in Warsaw.” Schudrich was beaten in the street by a Polish nationalist yelling anti-Semitic slogans the day before Pope Benedict XVI visited the homeland of his predecessor, John Paul II, last month.
The Polish government has recently multiplied its homophobic actions, including the launch of a criminal probe of all Polish gay organizations and their financing at the demand of the League of Polish Families. Just ten days before the EuroParliament passed its resolution, Poland’s minister of education, Roman Giertych—president of the League of Polish Families—fired the head of his ministry’s department of teacher training, Miroslaw Sielatycki, for having published and distributed a Polish-language version of an official teacher training manual from the Council of Europe which contains a section on how to educate against homophobia and how to better understand the subject of homosexuality. The manual urged collaboration between schools and LGBT groups that could lead to representatives of those organizations speaking to student assemblies.
The largest Polish teachers union, the ZNP, defended Sielatycki and his distribution of the training manual as legitimate.
Following the firing of Sielatycki by Giertych, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, officially demanded an explanation from the Polish government, and expressed his regret that Poland and other member countries of the Council of Europe had done nothing to combat and eradicate homophobia within their borders.
Last week, the League of Polish Families’ youth arm, the All-Polish Youth, filed a legal proceeding with the minister of justice against the Warsaw Pride-Equality March for “creating a danger for the inhabitants” of Warsaw. Giertych was the founder, and remains honorary president, of the All-Polish Youth, many of whose members are skinheads, and which is noted for its violent homophobia and its thuggish physical assaults on gay demonstrations and events.
The Pride-Equality March, Poland’s largest ever, drew between 6,000 and 10,000 participants on June 10, including many from other European countries, among them more than 1,000 Germans, mostly from Berlin, and delegations from Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, the U.K., the Czech Republic, and Latvia.
Twenty members of the EuroParliament from various countries also joined the Pride-Equality March.
The Polish press last week reported that another notoriously homophobic member of the Polish Parliament affiliated with the League of Polish Families, Krzysztof Bosak, led a group from the League’s All-Polish Youth in taking photographs of the gay marchers and their supporters in the Warsaw Pride-Equality March. This is not the first time that the extreme right has taken hundreds of photographs of participants in gay and anti-fascist demonstrations, and some Polish media are asking whether there is a link between Bosak’s photo-taking and the Web site Redwatch, which has published names, photos, and addresses of gay and left-wing activists and called for their murder.
Redwatch is a front group for the Polish branch of the neo-Nazi international Blood and Honor movement, and many members of the All-Polish Youth are also members of Blood and Honor. A young ecology activist was recently stabbed after his name and photo appeared on the Redwatch Web site.
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at