Gay Protest Greets Polish Pres. In Chicago
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff - LINK
February 12, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET
(Chicago, Illinois) A noisy protest greeted Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Chicago on the weekend to draw attention to human rights abuses in the former Communist country.
Members of the Gay Liberation Network dogged the Polish leader over two days in the Windy City and denounced Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. Rod Blagojevich for meeting with Kaczynski.
Daley and Blagojevich took turns placing wreaths at the statue of Revolutionary War hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko and then posed with Kaczynski for photos as hundreds of Chicago Poles looked on.
Gay Liberation Network coordinator Bob Schwartz said Daley and Blagojevich should have turned down a meeting with Kaczynski.
"Kaczynski denied gays the right to assemble and march in Warsaw," Schwartz said.
He also condemned the president's continued opposition to LGBT rights in Poland.
Another protestor, Andy Thayer called Kaczynski a "vile and disgusting man."
Kaczynski was honored at a dinner hosted by the Polish American Congress. Before coming to Chicago, he met in Washington with President Bush.
The former Warsaw mayor was elected president last year. Both he and his ruling Law and Justice Party are under a warning from the European Union over threats to curtail LGBT civil rights.
Last June, while still Warsaw mayor, Kaczynski refused to grant permission for a gay pride parade in the capital. (story) Nevertheless, more than 2,500 people ignored the order and marched anyway. (story)
In October Kaczynski was elected President in a campaign marked by frequent homophobic attacks, prompting the European Union to issue a stern warning to the government not to try to limit the rights of gays and lesbians. (story)
The European Commission said that if the government continues to oppose gay rights Poland risks losing its voting rights in the EU.
Despite the warning a month later riot police were used to break up a gay pride parade in the city of Poznan.