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Poland Fails EU Human Rights Obligations On Gay Issues - OutRage!





LONDON, June 8  –  The banning of Warsaw Pride by the city’s Mayor, Lech Kaczynski, sets a dangerous precedent for the respect of gay rights in the European Union, says Brett Lock of the gay human rights group OutRage!

Last month, it emerged that Warsaw Pride Parade, due to be held on Saturday (June 11) would not go ahead as Kaczynski had effectively banned it.  But gay activists in Warsaw pledged that they would find a way around the ban.

“We are definitely going ahead on Saturday”, a spokesman from Campaign Against Homophobia in Warsaw said today.

But gay activists throughout Europe are campaigning on the wider issues that, as a member of the European Union, Poland is failing to comply with its obligations on human rights.

“It is time for pressure to be put on the Polish government and Polish discrimination,” Campaign Against Homophobia.  “We sincerely hope the European Union’s ideas about integration are not merely empty words.

“Poland should be held to a standard in respecting its citizens’ rights. Poland’s blatant disregard of the rights of some of its citizens is unacceptable and should not go unnoticed.”

OutRage!, the UK gay rights group, is urging the British government and the UK’s MEPs to call for a review of Poland’s membership of the EU, unless it can give specific guarantees and commitments to bring gay human rights in line with EU standards.

“We want the Mayors’ banning of Warsaw Pride to be raised in the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers,” said Lock.

“If Poland’s capital city gets away with banning Gay Pride for a second year running, it could encourage other countries in the EU to also feel that they can get away with down-grading lesbian and gay rights.

“It will send the wrong signal to existing EU countries and candidate countries, some of whom are already equivocal about their obligations to their gay citizens,” he pointed out.

OutRage! is backing a petition by the International Lesbian & Gay Association (ILGA) which is condemning Poland and urging other EU states to intervene.

The ILGA petition says: “In the name of the values of democratic Europe, we make an urgent appeal to you: See to it that the “Warszawa Parade for Equal Rights” can take place and that the basic rights of free opinion, speech and assembly won't be violated.”

The petition can be signed online

“When countries apply for membership of the EU, they are expected to commit to a comprehensive human rights package as a precondition. If one country is allowed to trample on the rights of its LGBT citizens in such a visible and fundamental way, it sets a bad precedent,” said Mr Lock.

“Other EU countries with strong conservative and right-wing religious lobbies could use the fact that Poland has been not been censured for violating the civil rights of its lesbian and gay communities to pressure for similar exemptions. These exemptions may not be limited to Pride parades, but could ultimately include employment rights, partnership rights and legal protection from harassment and hate-crimes,” said Mr Lock.

Gay rights campaigners in Poland have emphasised the potential danger to other EU countries and called for pressure to be put on their country to conform to EU standards.

David Allison, also from OutRage! Pointed out that Kaczynski has been tipped as a frontrunner in Poland’s presidential elections in October.

“If he wins, we will see the leader of an EU member state who is actively hostile to gay rights and prepared to repress the gay community in his country,” Alison said.

“Decades of work to ensure that gay people are treated equitably and fairly within the EU will be undermined.

“It will be harder to apply positive EU rulings on gay rights in other member states if Poland has won exemptions from applying them. Lesbian and gay Poles are also EU citizens and deserve equal treatment,” he continued.

“More dangerous is that the criteria for membership will be downgraded by the EU’s failure to whip Poland into line. New countries applying for membership will use Poland as an example as to why they don’t need to halt anti-gay persecution or scrap homophobic laws in order to be eligible for membership of the European Union. They will cry double-standards and cite Poland as an example if they are pressured to axe anti-gay legislation in order to qualify for membership.

“If gay and human rights groups do not unite to confront Poland’s anti-gay discrimination, we risk the stealthy erosion of gay rights in Europe.

“Many mistakenly see progress as a linear movement, but we need look no further than George W Bush’s America to see that our rights are fragile and the clock can be turned back. We have to vigilant.

“If we don’t put up a fight now, we may allow homophobes to lay the groundwork for the reversal of gay rights and our hard-won freedoms,” Allison added.


Warsaw’s Gay Pride Parade To Go Ahead Despite Mayor’s Ban. May 23
Mayor Puts Damper on Gay Pride Parade in Warsaw. May 19

Krakow Pride 2005
A Bird Sang at Auschwitz As Gays Remembered Holocaust Victims
March Is Off, But the Show Goes On




8 June 2005