MEP calls on Poland to condemn homophobia

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The president of the European Union’s Intergroup on Lesbian and Gay Rights has called on the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, to condemn homophobia and homophobic violence in his country.

Michael Cashman, Labour MEP for the West Midlands, has written to the President urging protection for all minorities in the wake of a recent statement from the Polish leadership criticising anti Semitism in the country.

The former EastEnder said: “President Kaczynski recently made a statement condemning anti-Semitism in his country. I naturally welcome this statement but have written to the President to urge him to make a similar statement concerning homophobia, a form of prejudice and discrimination which is still prevalent in Poland.”

Mr Cashman took part in the recent Warsaw Equality march which, although banned for two consecutive years in 2004 and 2005, took place without major incident and with the overwhelming support of Polish citizens. It was Mr Kaczynski himself who banned the previous marches when he was mayor of Warsaw.

Despite the march going ahead, there has been widespread concern about the recent increase in homophobic and discriminatory comments made by prominent Polish politicians.

“I know that hate speak and defamation against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by Polish politicians, including prominent government ministers such as the education minister Roman Giertych, is not representative of the vast majority of decent, tolerant Polish people’s feelings, my personal experience at Warsaw pride confirms this,” Mr Cashman said.

“If President Kaczynski truly wants to defend human rights and minority rights of Polish citizens he must clearly and absolutely condemn homophobia and homophobic violence.

“I hope my letter will put pressure on President Kaczynski and convince him of the importance to speak out against discrimination and ensure Poland respects her obligations under international and EU law,” he added.

The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution which stated its concerns about the increase in homophobic violence in the EU and made specific reference to Poland.