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More homophobia from Polish politicians

Tony Grew June 5, 2008

A gay parent who is in a sexual relationship should have their children taken from them, a politician in Poland has claimed.

The latest in a litany of homophobic outbursts comes from a member of the governing Civil Platform party.

Stefan Niesiolowski, who is a deputy Speaker of the Polish parliament, told a TV audience that same-sex families are abnormal and described lesbian couples with children as a “serious pathology.”

The  Campaign Against Homophobia has written the Speaker and to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the leader of Civil Platform, a centre-right Christian-Democratic party.

“On June 2 on a TVN24 television show Speaker Niesiolowski was asked to comment on a recent decision by the Wroclaw family court in which a homosexual woman was not granted full custody of her child,” the letter states.

“Speaker Niesiolowski replied that he would support a bill taking children away from homosexual people if they “bring in another homosexual and their home is a place of permanent deprivation.”

“I would like to underscore that this is not the first time Speaker Stefan Niesiolowski has voiced such opinions.

“The Civil Rights Ombudsman has also recently expressed his concern over the hateful and homophobic remarks voiced by someone representing such a high position in the government.

“I wish to underline that the issue of parenthood by homosexual people should be a matter of public debate.

“It must be remembered however that this debate can not violate basic human rights nor the dignity of certain people.

“We must also bear in mind that whether we like it or not, there are gays and lesbians who have children and are parents in Poland.

“Unfortunately the discussion In which Speaker Niesiolowski’s remarks are included violate the dignity not only of homosexual people who are parents but also stigmatise children being raised in these families.”

The chair of the Campaign Against Homophobia, Robert Biedron, also asked for information on whether the government or parliament are preparing legislation which would allow the state to remove gay people’s parental rights.

During Monday’s TV debate Mr Niesiolowski said:

“The child’s interest should be most important. It’s unacceptable for her to have two mothers or fathers. If they want to live together then fine. But get the hell away from children.

“I refuse to agree to this and I’ll fight with the serious pathology which is a pair of lesbians with a child.

“Not too long ago homosexuals said ‘don’t persecute us’ and now they demand adoption and the right to raise children, and that will never be allowed.”

When Mr Tusk took office in November gay rights activists asked Mr Tusk to consider legalisation of civil unions, the introduction of comprehensive sexual education in schools and the ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

While many predicted that the new Prime Minister would usher in an era of reform, others remain cautious but hopeful.

Although Civil Platform is looking to repair ties with the European Union, it takes a similarly conservative position to the former ruling party, the right-wing Law and Justice, on many issues such as abortion and gay rights.

Former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his twin brother, Lech Kaczynski, the current President, caused controversy within the LGBT community for their anti-gay stance.

The pair banned several gay pride marches in the country and on a state visit to Ireland at the beginning of this year Lech Kaczynski said that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual destruction of the human race.

Mr Tusk recently spoken out about his country’s image abroad under the Presidency of Lech Kaczynski.

In May Human Rights Watch inducted the President into their annual “Hall of Shame” to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, a move that brought into sharp contrast views of Kaczynski at home and abroad.

The President was placed in the Hall of Shame for a controversial speech decrying German influence on the country and gay marriage.

His address to the nation in March used heavy-handed tactics to warn of the dangers of the Lisbon treaty.

Over footage of two men getting married the President, a notorious homophobe, claimed the treaty would “affect the accepted moral order in Poland.”

Donald Tusk, when asked about the Hall of Shame, he said:

“The image of homosexuals were used in the context of a curse and disaster which are lurking over Poland.

“I would prefer that Poland, whoever it concerns, whether the Prime Minister or President, not be regarded in the world opinion as a country of homophobes, Teletubbies specialists, but rather that they consider us normal.”

The country was widely mocked last year when it was revealed that Ewa Sowinska, a government-appointed children rights watchdog, said she would ask psychologists to advise if the Teletubbies’ camp antics could affect children.

“I noticed [Tinky Winky] has a lady’s purse, but I didn’t realise he’s a boy,” she said.

“At first I thought the purse would be a burden for this Teletubby. . . Later I learned that this may have a homosexual undertone.”

Her office later dropped the issue.

Miss Sowinska, a member of the militantly anti-gay and anti-abortion League of Polish Families, resigned last month.

The party was a junior coalition partner in Poland’s previous government but lost its seats in parliament in an election last year.

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