Current Affairs

Polish government rapped by EU over gay views

Christopher Hayes March 5, 2007
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Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski summoned his deputy Roman Giertych for talks on Monday after he spoke out against homosexuality and abortion.

Giertych is the leader of the League of Polish Families, a far-right party currently enjoying coalition with Kaczynski’s ruling Law and Justice party.

He angered Kaczynski last week by asking the European Union to stop “homosexual propaganda” and ban abortion.

The comments were rebuked by the European Commission which reinforced its opposition to discrimination against minority groups.

According to Reuters, Giertych’s conservative Catholic party has been earmarked by the European Parliament as a culprit behind a “rise in racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic intolerance” in Poland.

Poland has one of the toughest laws on abortion in Europe.

Laws permit a termination only when the life or health of the mother is threatened, when the baby is likely to be disabled, or when pregnancy is the result of a crime such as rape.

The League of Polish Families wants a total ban on abortion preventing a termination even in these rare cases.

Kaczynski also faces pressure from his own party.

An ultra-conservative wing of his ruling Law and Justice party wants to make it impossible to liberalise the abortion law in the future.

Political analysts have suggested that the row over abortion could undermine support for the ruling party among conservative voters.

Marek Migalski, a political analyst at Silesia University in Katowace told Reuters: “Giertych made a smart move.

“He is trying to paint Kaczynski as a liberal and take the ultra-conservative people on his side.

“But Kaczynski will keep in him in the government because he still needs him.”

Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s identical twin brother, Lech Kaczynski, has been the President of the Republic of Poland since October 2005.

Both have been known to make homophobic remarks during their political careers.

As the then Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski banned the city’s gay pride parade in 2004.

He also banned the event in 2005 while allowing a homophobic counter-demonstration, the “Parade of Normality.”

Jaroslaw Kaczynski is reported to have said that homosexuals should not be allowed to teach.

And speaking to the weekly Ozon he said: “The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilisation. We can’t agree to it.”

In August 2006, when quizzed by the EU over his gay rights record, Prime Minister Kaczynski said he was not a homophobe.

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.”

Last week the President caused more trouble with remarks about homosexuality during a state visit to Ireland.

Speaking to an audience at Dublin Castle, Lech Kaczynski said that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual destruction of the human race.

“If that kind of approach to sexual life were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear,” he said.

“Imagine what grand changes would occur in mores if the traditional links between men and women were set aside.”

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