Polish President uses gays as EU treaty scare tactic

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Poland’s attempts to ratify the Lisbon Treaty have been thrown into disarray after President Lech Kaczynski made a controversial speech to the nation decrying German influence on the country and gay marriage.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk accused the head of state of trying to scare Poles.

Opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the President’s twin brother and leader of the homophobic Law and Justice party, wants the EU treaty to include a preamble safeguarding the right of member states to opt out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

President Kaczynski’s address to the nation on Monday night used heavy-handed tactics to warn of the dangers of the Lisbon treaty.

During the transmission images of a pre-World War Two map of Germany encompassing parts of Poland was interspersed with news footage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel talking to a campaigner for Germans expelled from Poland.

Over footage of two men getting married the President, a notorious homophobe, claimed the Lisbon treaty would “affect the accepted moral order in Poland.”

Prime Minister Tusk commented:

“Scaring Poles that the EU poses a danger on the part of homosexuals and Germans is foolish, indecent, contrary to our experience and fatally harmful to Poland.”

Gay activists in Poland were dismayed late last year when the newly-elected Tusk government decided to continue the policy of opposition to the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Before coming to power in November Donald Tusk had signalled he would sign up to the charter, which broadly mirrors the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Former Prime Minister Kaczynski claimed that Poland was “culturally different” from their EU partners, especially when it came to the rights of LGBT people and the use of the death penalty, and refused to sign up.

In an address to the Polish parliament just after taking office in November Prime Minister Tusk said he will honour the commitment of the previous government and join the UK as the only nations in the 27-member EU to opt out.

The charter is legally binding on EU institutions such as the European Court of Justice as part of the new Reform Treaty agreed by the EU heads of government in Lisbon.

The Lisbon treaty needs a two-thirds majority vote in the Polish parliament to become law, which requires the Law and Justice party to support it.

For this reason the government decided to retain the opt-out.

Prime Minister Tusk has said that if the 460-member parliament does not ratify the treaty he will call a referendum.

The Kaczynski brothers have caused several controversies within the LGBT community.

On a state visit to Ireland at the beginning of last year President Kaczynski said that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual destruction of the human race, while Jaroslaw has also been known to make homophobic remarks during his political career.

As the then Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski banned the city’s gay pride parade in 2004.

He also banned the event in 2005 while allowing a homophobic counter-demonstration, the “Parade of Normality.”

In August 2006, when quizzed by the EU over his gay rights record, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said he was not a homophobe.

As Prime Minister he proposed a range homophobic legislation, but it was abandoned when he was defeated in last year’s election.