Opinion: Strange bedfellows?

As a Liberal Democrat supporter currently residing in Warsaw, Poland it is with great interest that I have read David Cameron will be in my adopted home town tomorrow to launch with Czech and Polish partners, a new right-wing group in the EU parliament. It is well documented that Cameron pledged to withdraw the Tories from the centre-right EPP grouping but as can be seen from this weekend’s Guardian this is not altogether a popular decision amongst senior Tories.

The Tory party has long made itself irrelevant on European issues – but what bothers me so much is that the party that Mr Cameron is linking up with here in Poland has an appalling record on gay rights. The Law and Justice party is headed up by twins, Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who, for an 18-month period in 2006-07, were simultaneously president and prime minister. Thankfully the Polish electorate found this situation to be as bizarre as it sounds and ended Law and Justice’s reign at parliamentary level about two years ago.

During Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s time as prime minister he stated his belief that “homosexuals should not be teachers” and that “the affirmation of the homosexual lifestyle will lead to the downfall of civilization”. Rather sweeping and ludicrous proclamations from a man who at the age of 58 still lives at home with his mother.

During his time as prime minister, his coalition partners, the League of Polish Families (LPR), started an investigation into the links between homosexuality, paedophilia and organised crime, a somewhat bewildering combination. Incidentally, members of LPR are now allied to ‘Libertas’ in the Euro elections, which considering the meaning of the word ‘libertas’ is rather ironic.

The other twin and the president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski was previously president of Warsaw and three times banned a gay pride march in Warsaw stating that it would promote a ‘homosexual lifestyle’. A tolerance march which took place in Krakow on the same day as Eurovision earlier this month drew crowds of stone- and egg-throwing protestors. Equally as worrying as violent counter-protestors is that 22 politicians (primarily from the Law and Justice party) signed a petition to try and get the march stopped due to ‘the protection of family values and safety of citizens’.

Attitudes to homosexuality in Poland are changing, particularly amongst the young and educated class, but in what is a staunchly traditional and Catholic country the mainstream opinion towards homosexuality is still hostile. By coming to Warsaw and endorsing the credentials of Law and Justice in the European elections, David Cameron is also demonstrating that misguided Tory political dogma comes ahead of human rights.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and Op-eds.
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