Gay Conservative MP Nick Herbert and British ambassador Ric Todd spoke to PinkNews.co.uk today at Warsaw’s EuroPride.
Mr Herbert and Mr Todd rode on the Fundacja Równości (Equality Foundation) truck during the parade, which was attended by approximately 10,000 people.
Mr Todd told PinkNews.co.uk: “Warsaw is a brilliant choice for EuroPride. You’ve only got to see the level of support here – thousands of people, mostly young Poles, marching here, having a really good time. This is challenging some of the stereotypical views that we hear a little bit about in the UK about this country.”
Mr Todd also said that he was “convinced that Poland is actually a very tolerant country. Some of the images that you hear about of concrete and greyness and anti-Semitism and homophobia are simply way, way wide of the mark.”
“My view is that individuals, like nations, are learning throughout their entire lifetime, and you can always do better, you can always get better, and you can always learn from others.”
Commenting on the anti-gay protesters that were present during the parade, Mr Herbert said: “How many protesters were there compared with the numbers of people marching? They really were a tiny minority of protesters … There’s thousands of people here who are in support of this … Just seeing the reaction of some of the young people on the streets, waving and so on, you do sense that this isn’t something that’s going to go away.”
When asked if the UK government had plans to work with the new Polish government to promote equality, Mr Herbert acknowledged: “It is important that internationally we use our position as a great democratic country to say that equality and human rights matter to us.
“I think that the Conservative party has made a very important and rapid journey over the last few years; we are now a modern progressive party that is open to all.”
Mr Herbert did acknowledge that his party has further to go on LGBT issues, but added: “When we saw David Cameron and Nick Clegg hosting the reception for London Pride a few weeks ago, I think this really was a sign that we’re moving to a new position now in British politics where there is agreement between the main parties about these issues, fundamental agreement that equality matters, it’s here to stay, and it’s our job to entrench it.”
PinkNews.co.uk asked Mr Herbert why the prime minister had met with Jarosław Kaczyński so close to the Polish elections, and whether there was a danger that this could send mixed messages about UK support of Polish LGBT equality.
“The prime minister is the prime minister of a big and important country in the European Union, and it’s absolutely right that we should be meeting with politicians throughout the EU. That’s an entirely understandable thing that he would want to do.”
When asked if there had been any developments on Boris Johnson’s new-found support for gay marriage, Mr Herbert laughed and said: “Well as you know, what David Cameron and George Osborne said just before the election was that gay marriage is something that we should look at, in time.”
“It’s not something we’ve got immediate plans to change, but we recognise that there are views that say that the name is important.”