Homophobic Former Polish Prime Minister Is Front-Runner for European Parliament President
EPP-ED’s Buzek looks likely to be elected on Tuesday
BRUSSELS, July 12, 2009 Former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, now a member of the ruling Civic Platform party in Poland, looks set to become the President of the European Parliament when MEPs assemble in Strasbourg next week for the first plenary session of the new Parliament.
He has emerged as the leading contender following political ‘wheeling and
dealing’ in the corridors of Brussels. Mr. Buzek is a member of
the EPP-ED group in the Parliament.
Mr. Buzek is a member of the EPP-ED group in the Parliament.
But a number of MEPs, especially those who are sympathetic to gay and transgender rights, are privately expressing concern as Mr. Buzek has history of being homophobic.
So, just what is his record on gay issues?
Within a month of taking office as Prime Minister in October 1997, his Minister of Education, Miroslaw Handke, refused to introduce a new subject in schools, “sexual education”. He said that “children can find enough information about sex in bible”. Handke was also against education on HIV/Aids, and “other sexual pathologies”.
Main supervisor in Ministry of Education was Teresa Król, who openly said that “homosexuality is disease and deviation”. Despite international protest against this statement, Prime Minister Buzek refuse to dismissal her.
Additionally, on local level, the Ministry of Education appointed openly homophobic persons, like, in Lublin City, Boguslaw Zaremba who said: “I think that homosexuality is hard disease and deviation”.
In May 1998, EU cancelled €32 million PHARE grant for Poland because Ryszard Czarnecki, president of the Office of the Committee for European Integration, refused to use this money to fight AIDS – he wanted to use this money for other things.
Two months later, Kazimierz Kapera returned to Government. As deputy minister of Health Care in the government of Jan Bielecki, he said, in 1981: “AIDS is punishment for gays, and it comes from God”.
He was dismissed after this statement. But Jerzy Buzek decided to bring him back into Government as coordinator for policy for families. Mr. Kapera then wrote a homophobic report about promotion of homosexuality in Polish society.
In it, he advised government to ban speaking about gays and lesbians in the media, including television. He also said that gay people should not work in public television. Jerzy Buzek as Prime Minister officially accepted this report.
Autumn of 1998 saw the former Marshal of Polish Parliament, Prof. Mikołaj Kozakiewicz, writing in the weekly Polityka weekly that members of the Buzek government were working against human rights, especially Kapera and Handke.
July 1999 saw Poland under investigation by United Nations Committee For Human Rights. Bogdan Borusewicz, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, was with the Polish delegation in Geneva as the UN investigated charge of homophobia, Borusewicz told the Committee that Poland is not against gays. After his statement, the Polish section of Helsinki Committee sent a report to the UN about restriction and hate speech of main politicians against gay people in Poland.
A year later at a United Nations conference in New York on Women’s Rights, Polish Minister Jerzy Kropiwnicki refused to sign summary declaration – he said that definition of “sexual orientation” is to huge and it could mean paedophiles. Poland refused to support declaration for women’s rights, joining Algeria, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan and Vatican.
In December 2000, the Polish Ministry of Education was co-organiser of a science conference in Poznan. The “Youth and Love” conference was about sexuality and fighting HIV/AIDS. During this conference Jacek Pulikowski said that “homosexuality is disease and we should heal gays and lesbians because this is possible”.
MEP Joke Swiebel (Netherlands) published a report in the summer of 2001 about discrimination of gays, prepared by ILGA. The report highlighted many instances of hate speech by Polish politicians against LGBT people, homophobic fake science conference, and homophobic statements in the main Polish media.
The report showed that Polish homophobia to be on the same level as Romania. The Polish government were given the opportunity to respond to the criticisms in the report. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek decided to ignore the report – Poland never responded.
In August 2001, Guenter Verheugen, the then EU Commissioner for Enlargement, wrote an open letter to the then ten candidate countries of the European Union. The EU will press the candidate countries to respect human rights especially gay rights. The letter was sent to Latvia and Estonia, Poland and Slovenia, but was cancelled after official protest of the governments.
Jerzy Buzek was first elected to the European Parliament in 2004, almost three years after his Government was defeated in the election of 2001. In that election five years ago, he polled a record 22% of the votes in his Silesian Voivodeship constituency without printing any posters or leaflets.
He stood for re-election last month and got 42% of the votes cast in his constituency. He is a member of the Platforma Obywatelska which is part of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats political grouping in the European Parliament
In one of the final votes in the last Parliament, he voted against the European antidiscrimination directive.
During the election campaign, Mr. Buzek gave an interview to the Cartholic weekly Gosc Niedzielny. Asked if he would support a possible European directive to implement registered partnership law for gay people, he, perhaps surprisingly replied: “Yes, but without right to adoption”.
Following the June election, he was interviewed on Polish television by Monika Olejnik. In that interview, he said he was gay prides, gay marriages and against gay right to adoption of children. The interview (in Polish can be seen on YouTube)
Day after this interview was transmitted, Łukasz Pałucki, a member of Social Democratic Party of Poland (SDPL) and also member of Rainbow Rose, called for boycott of Jerzy Buzek as candidate for President of European Parliament.
Mr. Pałucki said that Buzek is homophobic and his nomination will be against interest of people who fight for human rights in Europe.
The gay Polish Internet portal supported this call. And the comments by Mr Pałucki were widely reported by the Polish media.
A week later, the SDPL party published a statement that was against the candidature of Mr. Buzek in the election among MEPs for the Presidency of the European Parliament.
Krystian Legierski, LGBT activist from Polish Green Party supported Mr. Pałucki.
Mr. Legierski wrote an article suggesting that Buzek will be dangerous not only for Polish gays but for all gays and lesbians in European Union”.
“None of Polish main political forces care for LGBT people, we can get help only from EU. If people like Buzek will be nominated in PE we can lose even this support,” Mr. Legierski wrote.
In reply to Legierski’s article, Łukasz Pałucki responded: ”Dear friend, an article is not enough. I think you, as a Green, should call Daniel Cohn-Bendit and ask him to cancel his support to Jerzy Buzek.”