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GLN IN THE PRESS

Homophobia In Poland A 'Myth' PM Says

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff - LINK

August 30, 2006 - 3:00 pm ET

(Brussels) Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday there is no homophobia in Poland and that gays are well treated.

Kaczynski was repeatedly questioned about human rights abuses of Poland's gay community at a news conference following a meeting with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

"Don't believe the myth of a homophobic, xenophobic Poland," he declared, inviting journalists to go to Poland "to see for themselves". Please come to Poland, visit my country. You can go to clubs, you can ask around, you will not see anything bad," he said.

Kaczynski said that Poland had a history of tolerance and gay life is "functioning normally."

According to Kaczynski there are gay politicians in "very high political positions".

If so, it will come as a surprise to the country's gay leaders. No federally elected representative in Kaczynski's government is out.

Barroso told reporters that the issue of LGBT rights came up in discussions between the two. It is Kaczynski's first visit to Brussels and intended to assuage concerns about the treatment of gays and other issues involving Poland's membership in the European Union.

Despite Kaczynski's assurances Polish gays were not being mistreated, LGBT members of the European Parliament say the record speaks otherwise.

Kaczynski's twin brother Lech, who is Poland's President banned gay pride parades in 2004 and 2005 when he was mayor of Warsaw. (story) Nevertheless, more than 2,500 people ignored the order and marched anyway. (story)

This year, under a new mayor, a parade permit was issued but more than a thousand skinheads and ultra-nationalists lined the route throwing eggs and bottles (story).

Lech Kaczynski was elected President last October 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)

When Lech Kaczynski visited Berlin in March he was shouted down by protestors when he tried to speak at Humboldt University. (story)

The previous month Kaczynski was met by protestors in Chicago. (story) Members of the Gay Liberation Network dogged the Polish leader over two days in the Windy City.

©365Gay.com 2006



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