Polish MEP Michal Kaminski, who has been accused of homophobia, has said he would consider supporting civil partnerships and will attend Conservative Pride next year.
Kaminski, who is a politician for the Law and Justice Party, is the president of the Tories’ new bloc in Europe.
When he was invited by David Cameron to speak at the Conservative Party Conference this week, Stonewall chief Ben Summerskill boycotted a gay Tory event in protest.
In an interview with Total Politics magazine, Kaminski denied being homophobic and said that although he didn’t support gay marriage, he was prepared to consider voting for civil partnerships.
On the accusation that he used the word ‘fags’ in a television interview in 2000, Kaminski told interviewer Iain Dale: “I used a word that is un-transferable into English, which homosexual people feel is offensive. So I said that I would never use it again, but it was in common usage at the time – even by the leftist politicians in Poland. We just discovered that the leftwing leader of the Polish parliament during an inquiry meeting used the same word about homosexuals.
“Today, we know more about homosexuals, and because they felt offended I said I would never repeat such words, and I think we have to respect people who feel that the language we are using is somehow offensive, and respect their right to be treated with civility.
Kaminski added that he was “very proud” that Poland had been one of the first countries in Europe to decriminalise homosexuality and said: “I have nothing against them [gay people]. It’s deep in my belief that in a free society, your personal life and sexuality is your own concern. The state shouldn’t interfere, and shouldn’t prosecute.”
When pressed on his opposition to gay marriage, he replied: “I am opposed to gay marriage because Poland is a different society and I believe in differences. In Poland today, it would be very difficult to get legislation through on civil partnerships. If you are talking about civil partnerships between people of whatever their sexual preferences, I personally have nothing against them.
“What I am opposed to is imputing the word marriage to this kind of relationship, because I would say that for historical and cultural reasons, marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples. In my view, it’s not a question of sexual orientation but a freedom issue. If I want to make a social commitment with another citizen I should be allowed to do it.”
Dale said he agreed that Kaminski on gay marriage and asked whether he would support civil partnerships. Kaminski said: “I would consider voting yes, but it depends on the subject. I have said in Poland that I don’t think that the state should interfere in personal relationships.”
However, Kaminski stated that he opposed gy adoption, saying that children should be raised by a man and a woman. When Dale said he agreed with that position but felt it better that children should be placed in a loving family rather than a care home, Kaminski said he did not think his belief was homophobic.
Dale said he had considered inviting the Polish politician to Conservative Pride, which he co-hosted, but felt that it would have “overshadowed the event”. In reply, Kaminski said he would have been “more than happy” to attend and speak at the event and would do so next year.
Other issues discussed in the interview were allegations of anti-semitism, the Jedwabne massacre and Kaminski’s regret for praising General Pinochet.
Concluding, Dale wrote: “I went into the interview with an open mind. I came out absolutely convinced that Kaminski doesn’t have a homophobic or anti-semitic bone in his body.”