Current Affairs

UK Youth denounce Polish homophobia

Tony Grew December 8, 2006
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The UK’s national youth council has called on politicians of all parties to denounce publicly the attitude of the Polish government towards LGBT people.

The British Youth Council, a coalition of over 150 youth organisations, including GirlGuiding UK and the NUS, issued a statement today highlighting the multiple incidents of discrimination and homophobia involving high-ranking Polish government officials and politicians.

BYC chairperson Kay Ritchie said, “It is not okay to ignore the threats, discrimination and unlawful conduct of the Polish Government. At the British Youth Council we join the European Youth Forum in denouncing homophobic policies and hate-speak. We call on the UK Government to do the same.”

Since joining the EU in 2004, Poland has displayed an openly hostile attitude towards gay and lesbian people. In November Amnesty International produced a report on LGBT rights in Poland.

The EU have expressed concern at the homophobic attitude. In July The prime minister of Poland claimed his country is being misrepresented by the press, and hit out at the Western media.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting in Brussels with EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said: “Please do not believe in the myth of anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic Poland this is a media thing – it is not real.”

The Amnesty report highlighted the failure of Polish police to protect gay people and ensure their right to free assembly and the hardline attitude of the Polish education authorities towards homosexuality.

In May 2006 Wojciech Wierzejski, Deputy of the Sejm (Polish National Assembly), threatened Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transsexual (LGBT) demonstrators that: “If deviants begin to demonstrate, they should be hit with batons.”

In June 2006 Miroslaw Sielatycki, director of the permanent training centre on teaching (CODN), an institution of the Polish ministry of education, was fired for having edited a Council of Europe brochure which advised teachers to invite LGBT organisations to speak about discrimination.

In October the Vice Minister of Education, Miroslaw Orzechowski, responding to queries about the sacking, said, “This is the most drastic form of lies: that two individuals of the same sex can form a relationship. It does happen, but you cannot legalize it because it ruins our civilisation.”

The statement from the BYC reads: “We, along with the European Youth Forum, recognise that LGBT rights are a non-negotiable element of our human rights and that member states of the European Union have a responsibility to combat discrimination through the relations they maintain with each other.

“We are calling on the Government to demonstrate political leadership by publicly denouncing the vehement homophobia by the Polish government and to support the development and implementation of an integrated policy addressing homophobia throughout the European Union and all of its member states.”

As a condition of entry into the EU, accession states such as Poland had to pass a range of legislation protecting LGBT rights.

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