Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Polish March To Counter Gay Parade Fizzles

A march through Warsaw organized by a Catholic group to protest Saturday's first legalized gay pride parade in the city failed to attract the thousands of people organizers predicted.

About 800 people took part in the counter march, called a parade for "family values". It was a far cry from the estimated five-thousand gay pride marchers a day earlier. (story)

Many of those marching on Sunday carried signs denouncing LGBT civil rights in Poland. Some of the placards read "Man and Woman Family". Other marchers carried small Polish flags.

Among the marchers was Education Minister Roman Giertych. Last week Giertych unveiled draft legislation that would make it a criminal offence to "promote homosexual propaganda" in schools. (story).

He told the PAP news agency on Sunday he was marching to to protest Saturday’s gay pride march and support family values.

"I think that one has to oppose what happened here yesterday," Giertych said, referring to the gay parade, and calling the LGBT marchers child abusers.

"Revolting pederasts came here from many countries and tried to impose their propaganda on us.’’

If passed Giertych's bill would essentially censor all discussion of homosexuality in schools and other academic institutions. LGBT organizations would be barred from schools and "teachers who reveal their homosexuality will be fired from work."

Giertych's draft legislation, however, does not say exactly would constitute promoting homosexuality.

Giertych last week defined it as "every action that is dependent on the public presentation of a certain belief with the intention of convincing others to that viewpoint." But critics say it is so vague it could lead to witch hunts.

Saturday's gay parade was the first legally sanctioned LGBT pride march in the Polish capital. Conservative groups had called on Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz Walz to ban the parade. Friday she told Polish radio that she had no grounds for rejecting a parade permit application.

She pointed to a ruling earlier this month by the European Court of Human Rights that Warsaw's former Mayor Lech Kaczynski - now Poland's President - acted illegally and discriminatory in banning previous gay pride marches.

When he was mayor Kaczynski rejected parade applications from 2004 to 2006.

In 2005 dozens of militant youths were waiting as the marchers arrived at the Parliament buildings and pelted the crowd with eggs. Police struggled to try to regain order, but were vastly outnumbered.

Last year, the State Prosecutor's office issued a letter to prosecutors in the municipalities of Legnica, Wroclaw, Walbryzch, Opole and Jelenia Gora ordering in sweeping terms investigations into the conduct of "homosexuals" on unspecified allegations of "pedophilia."