Polish president’s homophobia outrages the Irish

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Remarks about homosexuality during a state visit to Ireland have caused more trouble for the controversial President of Poland.

Speaking to an audience at Dublin Castle on the final day of his three day visit, Lech Kaczynski said that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual destruction of the human race.

Politicians across the political spectrum in Ireland lined up to pour scorn on the Pole’s comments yesterday, which came as the country’s parliament was debating legislation to recognise gay marriages.

Kaczynski was challenged over his homophobic views, and his decision to ban a gay rights march in Warsaw in 2004. He replied:

“If that kind of approach to sexual life were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear.

“Imagine what grand changes would occur in mores if the traditional links between men and women were set aside.”

Labour party members, who brought forward the gay marriage legislation, said they were puzzled by his comments.

“He kept on saying that the Poles and us were so alike. I’m not so sure about that,” Senator Mary Henry told the Irish Independent.

The Mayor of Dublin, who hosted a lunch for the Polish President yesterday, said he totally rejected Kaczynski’s comments:

“Those beliefs are of a bygone age,” Vincent Jackson told the Independent.

“If you don’t have a belief that all sections of society have a right to co-exist, you will have intolerance and xenophobia. That would be a tragedy for Poland, which has gone through so much with occupation from neighbours on both sides.”

Other Irish politicians went further.

Senator David Norris, who founded the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform with current President of Ireland Mary McAleese, called Kaczynski a disgrace.

“It is certainly completely inappropriate for the president of a friendly state to promote his own ignorance at the expense of Irish citizens who have fought very hard to establish their human and civil rights,” he wrote in the Irish Independent.

“His nonsense about the threat posed by homosexuality has shown his very limited intelligence and was a betrayal of decent Polish people.”

Kaczynski has a history of homophobia.

The former leader of the ruling Law and Justice Party, he has long opposed lesbian and gay people’s rights to expression and assembly.

When serving as mayor of Warsaw, he attempted to ban Gay Pride marches in 2004 and 2005.

He refused to meet with the parade organisers, saying, “I am not willing to meet perverts.”

During his presidential campaign, Mr Kaczynski said that he would continue to ban gay demonstrations, as “public promotion of homosexuality will not be allowed.”

When Warsaw marchers defied the ban and peacefully demonstrated in 2004, skinheads associated with the far-right All-Polish Youth assaulted them.

The All-Polish Youth is affiliated with the League of Polish Families, and was founded in 1989 by Education Minister Mr Giertych.

In April 2006, demonstrators from the All-Polish Youth also attacked a “March for Tolerance” in Krakow, pelting it with stones and eggs.

In August 2006, after being questioned by the EU about intolerance and human rights violations in Poland, President Kaczynski’s twin brother, who is the country’s Prime Minister, claimed that his country was being misrepresented.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting in Brussels with EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said: “Please do not believe in the myth of anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic Poland this is a media thing – it is not real.”

It seems that the EU were not convinced that the reported spike in homophobic and racist sentiment in Poland is a myth.

At Dublin Castle yesterday, President Kaczynski claimed that he is not a homophobe.

“Among my personal friends there are individuals affected by this different sexual orientation, or homosexuality, but they enjoy full rights, they are able to move forward in various spheres of life,” he said, according to the Independent.

“This is a tendency, an orientation that has always existed, I don’t know why.

“I do not intend to combat it, to force them into therapy. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s appropriate that they should promote their sexual orientation.”