Gay rights advocating former Polish Deputy PM among dead in plane crash

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The plane crash that killed the homophobic Polish President Lech Kaczynski has also claimed the life of Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, one of the most outspoken advocates for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) rights in Poland.

Jaruga-Nowacka served as Poland’s deputy prime minister between 2004 and 2005 and was a vocal critic of the homophobic policies and pronouncements of the country’s late president.

Kaczynski as mayor of Warsaw repeatedly banned gay pride marches from taking place within the capital. Jaruga-Nowacka spoke out at a banned event in 2005: “We are for democracy,” she told the crowd. “We are for protection of all human rights, not only for some groups who are in the majority in Poland. All citizens have the right to choose their own way of life.”

Adding: “I am here to express my protest against the Mayor’s decision which is a violation of the Polish constitution and of civic rights. I am here to show my respect for the Polish tradition of tolerance.”

She regularly spoke at other gay rights rallies where she suffered verbal abuse from extremist nationalists and Christian groups.

She was travelling with the President to an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, where Soviet troops killed thousands of Poles when the plane they were traveling crashed near to Smolensk airport.