Current Affairs

Cashman: Poland reminds me of Thatcher era

PinkNews Staff Writer April 25, 2007
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Michael Cashman, one of only two out gay members of the European Parliament, has said that pressure from other countries can help gay and lesbians in Poland.

He compared the actions of the current Polish government to those of the Conservative administration of Margaret Thatcher.

“The defence of human rights you can either choose or it chooses you,” he told EUobserver.

“I went into politics because in 1987 the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher attempted do exactly what Giertych and his mates are attempting now.”

Roman Giertych is deputy Prime Minister of Poland as well as Education Minister.

In March he proposed a law that would bar the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.

He leads the ultra-right League of Polish Families, part of Poland’s three-party coalition government.

A Ministry of Education press conference was told by junior Education minister Miroslaw Orzechowski that new laws will, “punish whomever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments.”

It is thought punishment under the new law will include imprisonment.

Mr Cashman, who represents the West Midlands, heads the European Parliament’s inter-party group on gay and lesbian rights, which gathers around 60 MEPs.

Yesterday it called for a statement on homophobia from the European Commission and EU presidency and a debate and resolution in the European Parliament.

“At the moment in the UK as a gay man I have absolute equality,” Mr Cashman said.

“But in politics I have to imagine that when there’s discrimination allowed against another person, then it could be me.

“What Poland should know better than other countries, as it had lived under the oppression of the Soviet domination, is that if you deny with hate speak somebody else’s right, eventually someone will come and take away your right.

“I know Poland is a very conservative country. But Poland also stood next to the UK fighting for peace during WWII. I now ask for the same principles to be given to men and women.

“The peace to live their lives offending none, imposing upon none. Is that such a hard and difficult thing for a national government to deliver? I don’t think so.”

Last month the Polish ombudsman for children’s rights drew up a list of professions for which homosexuals are considered unsuitable.

Eva Sovinyska wants to impose a ban on gay and lesbian people doing jobs on the list.

The professions are mainly those which involve contact with children.

Gay teachers, or sport and art instructors in schools, would no longer be able to apply for work in their profession.

Poland is currently one of the most intolerant countries in Europe regarding gay rights.

89% of the population admit to considering homosexuality abnormal, and only half believe that it should be tolerated.

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