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European Tory leader defends Polish MEP over ‘homophobia’ claims

Jessica Geen July 17, 2009
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The head of the Tories in Europe has defended the new leader of David Cameron’s bloc in Europe over footage which showed him making a homophobic comment.

In a television interview in 2000, Michal Kaminsky, a Polish Law and Justice Party MEP, was heard to call gay people a derogatory term that can be translated as “fags” or “queers”.

It is the latest accusation of homophobia against the Polish party, which has also been attacked for antisemitism and racism. A number of its members have made negative comments about homosexuality, including leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski who said last year: “The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilisation.”

Tory MEP leader Timothy Kirkhope said Mr Kaminski’s comments had been “taken out of context”.

Mr Kaminski said the word had different connotations a decade ago and that he would not use it today.

He has been open about his opposition to gay marriage, but added he has “a deep respect for the people with a homosexual way of life”.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s The World At One, Mr Kirkhope defended his European colleague’s remarks.

“These remarks, that are completely out of context, were taken from something that was said about ten years ago in Poland,” he said.

“What happened ten years ago in the context of the social conservatism of Poland, in other words odd references out of context, are being used over and over again”.

“Michal has been absolutely straightforward about everything. Michal was one of those who fought in the underground against communism.

“It’s a bit like the BBC and the re-runs of Steptoe and Son and Alf Garnett. I mean, I don’t like that language very much. Certainly it would not be acceptable today.”

Earlier this week, a Tory MEP was expelled from the grouping in the European Parliament for standing against Mr Kaminski, the official vice-president candidate.

Edward McMillan-Scott, the longest-standing Conservative MEP, told yesterday that the party’s record on gay rights was “part of the picture” of why he defied orders.

He also told that the Polish party had links to the BNP through the European National Front.

Related topics: Europe

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