Current Affairs

Gay groups plan to confront Pope

Marc Shoffman May 25, 2006
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Minority groups in Poland are to tell the Pope to stop Catholicism being forced onto people, as he makes his first official visit to the country today.

Activists from backgrounds such as the gay and Jewish community believe Poland is becoming the less tolerant member of the European union amid gay bar closures, bans of organisations and increasing anti-Semitism.

Thomas Baczkowski of gay rights group, the Rownosci Foundation, told The Times, “Homosexuality was never illegal here but the communist secret police gathered a list of 15,000 gays for their own purposes. Now there are signs that some use could be made of this list by the present rulers.”

He claimed secretly gay politicians have been resigning.

Piotr Pazinski, editor of the Jewish magazine, Midrasz, said: “The gays are the avant-garde of a liberal society, just as Jews used to be in the 19th century.

“That’s why you will find many Jewish activists expressing sympathy: it’s about protecting minorities, the very cornerstone of a liberal democracy.”

Recent homophobic incidents in Poland include the closure of La Madame, a popular gay venue, a homophobic radio station and a government minister accusing gay people of stirring up opposition towards him.

Gay rights campaigners argue that since the ultra-Conservative Law and Justice Party led by Jaroslav Kaczynski came to power last September that the rights of gay people have been eroded.

Last year, Polish President Lech Kaczynski, as mayor of the Polish capital, refused to issue a permit for a Gay Pride parade. A short while later he issued a permit for a “normality parade.”

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to urge people to stay true to the Catholic faith and values.

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