The Poznań march, expected to
gather some 500 demonstrators, was supposed to take place on Nov. 19 as part
of the Days of Equality and Tolerance in Poznań, organized by leftist,
ecological, and feminist groupings.
A similar, though legal, event was
supposed to take place in 2004, but was blocked when far-right activists of
the All-Polish Youth, an organization affiliated with the far-right League
of Polish Families (LPR), began throwing stones at demonstrators.
Anna Szpytko, the spokesperson for
the Poznań mayor Ryszard Grobelny, said Tuesday, Nov. 15, that the decision
was made due to security concerns. Organizers of the parade, called the
Equality March, claim Grobelny gave in to the demands of the ruling
right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party and the far-right LPR, its informal
parliamentary coalition partner.
LPR, its affiliates, and the daily
Nasz Dziennik, held by a religious right group that also runs the radio
station Radio Maryja, have fiercely criticized the march. Local PiS and LPR
politicians, as well as the members of the Social Council of the Poznań
Archbishopric, said the march would cause "depravation and pose a threat to
the Poznań residents."
The Poznań municipality and Mayor
Grobelny had earlier indicated there were no reasons for the ban. The
decision comes half a year after a similar march was planned and banned in
Warsaw by the mayor of the capital Lech Kaczyński, who was elected Poland's
new president on Oct. 23.
The Poznań city official Katarzyna
Wilk was quoted by the PAP news agency as saying the ban was issued after
consultations with the police and the road authority in the city.
“The mayor of Poznań decided that
there is a conflict between the rules of the freedom of gathering and the
protection of private property,” Wilk reportedly said, adding the city had
earlier asked organizers to turn the march into a stationary picket, but the
offer was turned down.
The Greens 2004, one of the
organizers of the march, indicated Tuesday they would appeal the decision of
the Poznań mayor to the voivode, or the representative of the central
government in Poznań. According to the organization’s Marta Jermaczek, a
picket is one of the options considered.
Izabela Kowalczyk of the Greens
2004 was also quoted as saying that the ban is a political decision that has
nothing to do with security reasons. She said her organization had earlier
been assured by the local police of the readiness to ensure security during
“I am sorry that the mayor of
Poznań surrendered to the demands of the politicians from PiS, LPR, and the
All-Polish Youth. I'm sorry that tolerance and democracy fell under this
pressure,” Kowalczyk said.
After banning the gay marches in
Warsaw in 2004 and 2005, Poland's ruling PiS indicated they would not allow
homosexuals to teach schoolchildren, while Poland’s new Prime Minister
Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said in an interview with the Polish version of
Newsweek he considered homosexuality abnormal.
The new Polish minority government,
led by Marcinkiewicz and supported by far-right and leftist populists, has
recently decided to liquidate the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary
for the Equality of Men and Women, which also promoted equal treatment of
The official plans of turning it
into the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Family and Women were
also undermined Monday, Nov. 14, by the daily Nasz Dziennik, which
criticized Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, a candidate for the government
plenipotentiary, for her public support of artificial insemination. Polish
Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz put her nomination on hold after
On Tuesday, Marcinkiewicz told
reporters the office would not be created, while Kluzik-Rostkowska will have
the rank of the undersecretary of state at the Labor and Social Policy
Ministry, effectively becoming Deputy Labor and Social Policy Minister.
The decision to ban the Poznań
march comes on the 20th anniversary of the start of the Hyacinth law
enforcement action in Poland, aimed at secretly gathering information about
homosexuals by the security forces. The action began on Nov. 15, 1985, on
orders of the communist Internal Affairs Minister Czesław Kiszczak and
lasted for two years, during which the police, then called the militsiya,
gathered information about some eleven thousand homosexuals, many of which
they interrogated and fingerprinted.
Homosexuality has not been illegal in Poland since 1932.
■ Marcin Sobczyk is the Editor-in-Chief of the Warsaw
Independent news agency. This copyrighted article is published here
Warsaw Independent website
Campaign Against Homophobia Poland website
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