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Warsaw‘s mayor bans Christopher-Street-Day parade

in GERMANY, 23/06/2004

Maneo initiates protest campaign at Poland’s embassy

Rightwing populism on the highest level in Poland’s capital: The “Equality Parade”, planned to take place on 11 June, was banned by Warsaw’s mayor Lech Kaczynski. The gay and lesbian demonstration was said to be “sexually obscene” and a “danger to the public morality”. He said the demonstration’s objective was to spread pornography and to hurt others’ religious feelings. With that the mayor enters an alliance with the populist right-wing party “League of Polish Families” (Liga Rodzin Polskich) and their radical right-wing youth organisation (Mlodziez Wszechpolska), which backed the mayor by notifications of counter-demonstrations for the same day and the same place.

The CSD in Warsaw was prepared by the “campaign against homophobia”, Poland’s biggest gay and lesbian civil-rights organisation. According to Polish press reports the mayor had refused offers to talk with the organisers of the CSD, pointing out that “he was not willing to meet perverts”.

Shortly before that, from 6 to 9 May 2004 the days of gay and lesbian culture took place for the first time in the city of Krakow. Despite many objections, protests and hate-attacks by the representatives of local and national politicians, various press and representatives of the catholic church, the event could be held. The highlight of the event was the “tolerance-march” on 7 June 2004. There, the demonstration with 1.500 participants, was attacked by counter-demonstrators of the radical right-wing youth organisation (Mlodziez Wszechpolska). As a result of the violence, about 100 participants of the procession of demonstrators and many policemen were injured, some of them severely. “One policeman is still in intensive care” says Tomasz Baczkowski, member of the “campaign against homophobia”. The latest incidents in Krakow and the ban of the parade in Warsaw make clear the enormous institutional, political and social homophobia in Poland”, says Robert Biedron, president of the “campaign against homophobia”. He demands, that the EU-institutions put more pressure on the Polish government to protect the human rights in Poland.

The president of the Polish civil-rights organisation turned to his German counterparts and asked for support. He found a ready listener in the staff of Berlin’s anti-violence project Maneo. What the Maneo staff find scandalous is the fact that a state representative prevents of all this the event wich is devoted to the breaking down of hate and violence, while right-wing extremists are allowed to demonstrate undisturbed. With that, the civil rights and the protection from discrimination in our neighbouring country, which are guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, are simply refused. The anti-discrimination guidelines of the EU and the EU-charter of constitutional rights, which forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation, are also being ignored.

The staff of Maneo, the victim-service and anti-violence project of Mann-o-Meter e.V. , Berlin’s gay information- and consultation centre, have been involved in co-operation with Polish homosexual organisations since 1998. In autumn 2003 the Maneo staff travelled to Warsaw to meet representatives of the “campaign against homophobia” and “Lambda”. As a partner-organisation of the ‘campaign’ we are shocked about that development and they declare their solidarity with the Polish civil-rights activists. “We express our sympathy for all the injured demonstrators in Krakow. We hope for a soon recovery, especially for the severely injured policemen”, says Bastian Finke, head of the project Maneo.

In order to support the efforts for acceptance and frankness, Maneo wants to hand over a letter of protest to the Polish ambassador on the day before the CSD in Berlin – together with other friends from the field of anti-discrimination and anti-violence work.

“We support the “campaign against homophobia” in their efforts, to try to enlist more acceptance for gays and lesbians in the Polish society. Not only does the campaign support the idea of tolerance towards homosexuals with their objectives, but also to all minorities in the society. We want to meet on 25 June at 12.00 a.m. , in front of the Polish Embassy in Berlin, Lassenstraße 19-21 (Berlin-Grunewald), to declare our solidarity with the Polish civil-rights campaigners and to hand over our protest. Furthermore, we appeal to the members of the Polish parliament, to do what they can in the sense of a united Europe for the protection of the civil rights, which are in force for all people, says head of the project, Bastian Finke.

Maneo has been involved as a victim-aid and anti-violence project in Berlin for gay and bisexual men, who are affected by violence and discrimination, since 1990. Maneo was honoured with the CSD award for courage of one’s convictions in 2001. Some of the other awarded were e.g. Rita Süssmuth, the former president of the “Bundestag”(the German parliament), Paul Spiegel, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and Maria Jepsen, Protestant bishop from Hamburg.
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