Polish PM Slinks in Back Door to Avoid Gay Protest

London – 24 November 2005


Poland’s homophobic Prime Minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, made an undignified entrance via a side street to avoid gay rights protesters picketing his lecture at Chatham House in London this afternoon (24 November).

Instead of entering Chatham House via the grand entrance in St James’s Square, Mr Marcinkiewicz was bundled in via a side entrance in a nearby back street, Duke of York Street.

Outside Chatham House, London-based Poles joined a picket organised by LGBT human rights group, OutRage!, with the support of the European Region of the International Lesbian & Gay Association.

Martin Canerai and Swietlana, from Warsaw, were among the Poles who took part in the protest. They expressed their horror and fear at the rise of Mr Marcinkiewicz and his homophobic, right-wing Law and Justice party:

“We appreciate this protest in London ,” said Swietlana. “Polish lesbians and gays need international solidarity.”

Shortly after being named Prime Minister, Mr Marcinkiewicz declared homosexuality “unnatural,” adding: “The family is natural, and the state must stand guard over the family.”

Mr Marcinkiewicz, a Catholic fundamentalist, went on to say that if a homosexual “tries to infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must intervene in this violation of freedom.”

“This protest was very necessary, especially following last weekend’s violent police arrests of gay marchers in the Polish city of Poznan,” said David Allison of the LGBT human rights group OutRage!.

“We want the Polish Prime Minister to know that homophobes are not welcome in the UK ,” said Mr Allison.

His OutRage! colleague, Peter Tatchell, who was part of the protest at the Polish PM’s visit, said:

” Poland has joined the EU but is refusing to abide by EU human rights norms, as set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. These stipulate protection for gay people against discrimination and guarantee the right to organise and protest.

“It seems Poland wants the benefits of EU membership but not the responsibilities. The EU needs to issue an ultimatum to Mr Marcinkiewicz’s government: if you want to be part of the EU, abide by the rules. If you don’t uphold EU human rights norms, Poland will face suspension from the EU decision-making process.

“Last week’s suppression of a gay rights march in Poznan was in clear contravention of the guarantees of freedom of association and assembly enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Poland is a signatory.

“The Council of Europe should issue a strong warning to Polish government, advising it of its human rights obligations,” said Mr Tatchell.



The homophobic Polish Prime Minister, Mr Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz

He promotes homophobia and tolerates homophobia

Since being appointed Prime Minister in new Polish Government, Mr Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz has caused grave anxiety among Poland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Politicians from Mr Marcinkiewicz’s Law and Justice Party have been prominent in denouncing the LGBT community and banning LGBT rights celebrations and demonstrations. They have stood aside as peaceful LGBT events have been violently attacked by supporters of their right-wing allies.

Mr Marcinkiewicz rise to power has coincided with escalating intolerance of LGBT people, and a wave of homophobic violence – much of it politically motivated.

The new government is increasingly closely associated with more extreme parties on the right, particularly the League of Polish Families. This party has been virulent in its opposition to LGBT rights, and its youth wing, All Poland Youth, has repeatedly organized violent and hate-fuelled counter-demonstrations against peaceful LGBT events.

Attached is a diary of events detailing attacks on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Poland by representatives of Law and Justice and League of Polish Families in recent times.

These events raise serious concerns about the new Polish government’s willingness to fulfil its obligations under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and under the UN and Council of Europe human rights conventions.

We draw attention to the following incidents:

– On October 3 2005 Mr Marcinkiewicz is reported to have said: “the family is natural and the state must stand guard over the family. I do not care if someone is a homosexual or not . But if that person tries to infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must
intervene in this violation of freedom” (Newsweek, Polish edition).

– In one of its first actions, Mr Marcinkiewicz’s government announced the abolition of the Office of the Plenipotentiary for Equal Status. The immediate abolition of such a key institution for combating discrimination against women, LGBT people and others underlines
concerns regarding the Mr Marcinkiewicz’s attitude towards LGBT equality and his resolve to adhere to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

– The President of Poland, Mr Lech Kaczynski, has, on two occasions, when Mayor of Warsaw, banned peaceful demonstrations by LGBT people for their human rights. One justification he is reported to have given for these actions is that he is “against propagating gay orientation”.

– Mr Kaczynski has also expressed a surprising level of support for those organising violent counter-demonstrations and expressing profoundly anti-democratic views. Polish radio reported him saying that he was outraged by what he described as unequal police treatment
of an LGBT parade and the counter-demonstration; implying that the police were too hard on aggressive anti-gay protesters and not hard enough on peaceful gay protesters.

– In the Spring of 2005, Law and Justice politician Kazimierz Michal Ujazdowski is reported as stating during an election meeting in Torun : “Let’s not mistake the brutal propaganda of homosexual attitudes for calls for tolerance. For them our rule will indeed mean a dark night”.
Mr Ujazdowski is now the Minister of Culture.

– In November 2004 the chairperson of the City Council of Poznan, Law and Justice councillor, Przemyslaw Alexndrowicz, reportedly said, in connection with the proposed LGBT demonstration: “I don’t want Poznan to see manifestations of different sexual orientations, that is homosexuality, pedophilia, necrophilia, or zoophilia”. The march was subsequently blocked when activists of the All Poland Youth began throwing stones at the marchers.

– Last week, the Mayor of Poznan banned this year’s LGBT march. LGBT people marched anyway. Over 60 were arrested. Many more were injured after being pelted by far right anti-gay protesters.

– On occasion after occasion the youth wing of the League of Polish Families, All Poland Youth, has been clearly implicated in the organisation of violent opposition to peaceful demonstrations by the LGBT community. The government of PM Marcinkiewicz seems to be taking an overly tolerant stance towards right-wing homophobic extremism, while showing considerable intolerance towards Poland’s law-abiding LGBT community.

The overt and repeated homophobic outbursts by public figures can only serve to incite hatred and violence against the LGBT community. In June, Poland’s main LGBT organisations issued a joint statement expressing concern at the escalation of hatred towards homosexual people, and citing a number of violent incidents including the shooting of two activists outside a gay club (one of whom was a board member of Poland’s national LGBT organisation, Campaign against Homophobia).

Note: This news release is excerpted and edited by OutRage! from a briefing prepared by Nigel Warner of ILGA-Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), which works for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights and equality at European level. www.ilga-europe.org

Our thanks to ILGA-Europe.