Poland: Advocate Against Ban On Warsaw Equality Parade

RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM DISCRIMINATION
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF OPINION AND EXPRESSION
RIGHT TO PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION

IGLHRC joins the Equality Foundation, the Campaign against Homophobia, Lambda Warszawa, ILGCN Polska and ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association), in calling for signatures to petition the Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski, to reverse his intended decision to ban the Equality Parade-Warsaw's LGBT Pride celebration-- for the second consecutive year.

FORWARDED STATEMENT FROM THE WARSAW PRIDE ORGANIZERS

MAY 24, 2005

Concerned with the recent declarations made by the Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski, that he would again ban a legal and peaceful Equality Parade in violation of the Polish Constitution, we wish to powerfully state that despite his decision the Parade will take place on June 11.

We can no longer tolerate the humiliation and discrimination of gays and lesbians, and other social groups, by an individual who is running for the highest post in the republic. We can no longer accept the fact that we are treated as second-class citizens only because we are of a different sexual orientation that the dominant one.

Last year's ban of the Equality Parade - a bid tolerance celebration - was an action aimed against the most fundamental human rights, guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and most importantly by the Polish Constitution. Many circles in Poland and other countries protested against the ban.

The announcement that the Equality Parade would be banned again already stirred much social uproar. Human rights violations cannot stand in a country that is part of the European Community and values the social teaching of the Roman-Catholic Church. A country that rightly reprimands Belarus for human rights shortcomings cannot violate those rights at home.

This is why we have decided to no longer tolerate such humiliating practices. We do not agree to be humiliated and taken away the right to demonstrate peacefully. We do not agree for peaceful demonstrations to be easily disturbed by right-wing militia organizations and politicians, as seen last year during the March of Tolerance in Kraków.

We fear the "dark night" for gays and lesbians, proclaimed by the politicians of the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, that is likely to co-government starting autumn. History has taught us that the Holocaust, pogroms, and hate crimes happen in places where some begin to consider themselves as better, more moral, or more Arian that others. We will not allow PiS politicians to treat us as a worse category of people and demonstrate that there is no place for us in Poland. We should remember that if freedom is not defended on a daily basis, it may easily be lost.

This is why we're calling on all authorities, including Poland's Citizens' Rights Ombudsman and Prime Minister, to take a stand regarding the possibility of a repeated violation of fundamental human rights.

We encourage all those who value the ideals of tolerance and respect for human rights to take part in the Equality Parade. On June 11, let's show that there is no permission for lawlessness and injustice in Poland, a member of the European Union.

Tomasz Baczkowski, president, Equality Foundation
Robert Biedron, president, Campaign against Homophobia
Yga Kostrzewa, vice-president, Lambda Warszawa
Szymon Niemiec, president, ILGCN Polska

ACTION

  1. Sign the petition condemning the ban hosted on the ILGA website at:
    http://ilga.org/petition_detail.asp?PetitionIdentification=4
    (if the link is not working please cut and paste it into your browser)
  2. Write a letter to Mayor Kaczynski (lkaczynski@warszawa.um.gov.pl) with a copy to the President of Poland (listy@prezydent.pl), the Prime Minister of Poland, the President of the Parliament (see below for mailing address), and the President of the Senate (pastusiak@nw.senat.gov.pl). See below for a sample letter and complete addresses.

Please see the letter below, sent by IGLHRC to Mayor Kaczynski, as a sample:

SAMPLE LETTER

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Prezydent m.st. Warszawa
Lech Kaczynski
fax: + 48 (22) 595 30 52
e-mail: lkaczynski@warszawa.um.gov.pl

Dear Mayor Kaczynski,

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) wishes to express its deep concern over your decision to ban the Parada Równoœci for the second consecutive year. We urge you to rescind this ban and remind you that your active support for the pride parade in Warszawa is a critical component of your obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all citizens of Poland, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in your constituency.

The ban you have imposed is in clear violation of the human rights obligations to which the government of Poland has agreed, in particular, the rights to freedom of expression, to assembly and to freedom from discrimination, as guaranteed by international human rights standards and treaties ratified by Poland. As such, IGLHRC echoes the recent concerns and recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee with respect to the treatment of sexual minorities in Poland:

The Committee is concerned that the right of sexual minorities not to be discriminated against is not fully recognized, and that discriminatory acts and attitudes against persons on the ground of sexual orientation are not adequately investigated and punished (in accordance with article 26 of the ICCPR). - As stated in paragraph 18 of the HRC concluding observations to the Polish Governments 2004 report to the Committee, UN Doc: CCPR/CO/82/POL/Rev. 1

In this same concluding observation, the Committee noted that “Discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation should be specifically prohibited in Polish law” (ibid). According to a recent report by the Warsaw Lambda Association and Campaign Against Homophobia, the number of incidents of physical and psychological violence, discrimination at the work place, and discrimination in services and public life against lesbian and gay people are alarmingly high. As the capital city of Poland, Warszawa must lead the charge to reverse these disturbing statistics and protect the rights of sexual minorities.

Around the world, throughout the month of June, parades and marches such as the one organized for June 11 by local LGBT organizations in Warszawa, are taking place to call for an end to discrimination and to celebrate the rights of all citizens. Events like this one allow the world to see the openness of Polish society and the political will of local authorities towards the inclusion of LGBT citizens and the value/acceptance of diversity. Now in its second year as a member of the European Union, Poland is obligated to abide by the standards prescribed by the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights. The equal treatment of all citizens and their right to political expression is at the heart of democracy. The upcoming pride parade in Warszawa is a vital expression of these values.

We thus call on you lift this discriminatory ban and to take positive action to support the Parada Równoœci this coming Saturday.

Sincerely,

Paula Ettelbrick
Paula Ettelbrick
Executive Director

CC:

1. President of Poland: Aleksander Kwasniewski
Prezydent RP
Aleksander Kwasniewski
Kancelaria Prezydenta RP
ul. Wiejska 10
00-902 Warszawa
fax: +48 (22) 695-22-38
e-mail: listy@prezydent.pl

2. Primeminister of Poland: Marek Belka
Prezes Rady Ministrów RP
Marek Belka
Al. Ujazdowskie 1/3
00-583 Warszawa,
tel: + 48 (22) 694-60-00
fax: + 48 (22) 625-26-37
email: cirinfo@kprm.gov.pl

3. Marshal (President) of the Sejm (Parliament): Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz
Marszalek Sejmu RP
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz
Kancelaria Sejmu RP
ul. Wiejska 4/6/8
00-902 Warszawa

4. Marshal (President) of the Senate: Longin Pastusiak
Marszalek Senatu RP
Longin Pastusiak
Kancelaria Senatu RP
ul.Wiejska 6
00-902 Warszawa
tel: 694-14-39, 621-56-04
fax: 694-27-01
e-mail: pastusiak@nw.senat.gov.pl