A gay rights march took place on Saturday in Warsaw and drew approximately 5,000 demonstrators, reports the AP. It was a strong show of civil force in a country whose leaders have a solid track record of cracking down on such events.
In April, the European Parliament condemned Polish leaders for their ongoing intolerance and hateful policies towards gay people even as they continue to insist they’re not homophobic.
Roman Giertych, Polish Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister, was included last week in Human Rights Watch’s 2007 “Hall of Shame” highlighting leaders who have undermined human rights through homophobia. The political climate in which gays suffer in Poland is fed well by this Minister’s policies: “Giertych’s education ministry has proposed a law to fine or imprison teachers, school officials, or student human rights defenders who even mention homosexuality. Vital facts about safer sex and protection against HIV/AIDS could be banned from schools under the new law.”
According to the Associated Foreign Press, Saturday’s march was political but not outrageous: “Many of the participants carried the rainbow flag, the symbol of homosexual rights, and marched under the slogan ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ – the use of the biblical commandant an apparent swipe at ultra-Catholic protesters. There was little sign of the flamboyant dress, including drag, which is a feature of Gay Pride events in other European Union countries where the lot of homosexuals is thought to be better than in Poland. The annual Warsaw march, which drew only a few score demonstrators when it began in 2001, has a traditionally political edge due to official bans and sometimes violent counter-demonstrations. There were several dozen opposing protesters present on Saturday, most of them members of a far-right youth group.’Five members of the group were arrested,’ Warsaw police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said.”
Including, apparently, the nationalist below. Hate personified: