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Protest Photos & Report: Chicagoans Rally in Solidarity With Polish Gays

Just a few days after learning of the impending visit of the new President of Poland to Chicago, the Gay Liberation Network and friends launched a spirited protest against him in Niles, IL last Friday night.

President Lech Kaczynski has earned worldwide notoriety for waging a ruthless campaign against Lesbians and Gays in his country. "When he was mayor of Warsaw," wrote the Chicago Tribune, "Lech Kaczynski established his credentials as a Roman Catholic social conservative by banning the city's minuscule gay rights parade."

Now that he is President, Kaczynski has rolled out his gay-hating agenda on a nationwide scale. Under the banner of his Law and Justice Party, gays are denied the right to freedom of assembly and are arrested for peaceful protest. Worse, police have stood by and allowed fascist skinheads to physically attack Lesbian and Gay protesters -- and then arrested the peaceful protesters!

Ludwik Dorn, Kaczynski’s Minister of Interior, has publicly condoned the acts of police brutality towards Lesbians and Gays. In Poznan, the police stormed the LBGT Parade of Equality, swinging their truncheons, sending many to the hospital, and arresting 65 activists. Encouraged by the police, roaming mobs of skinheads pelted activists with eggs and shouted "Fags to gas," and "We'll do to you what Hitler did to the Jews."

Not surprisingly, this same government headed by homophobe Lech Kaczynski has abolished the Office of Equality of Women and Men, supports increasing restrictions on abortion, and challenges the European Union ban on capital punishment. As Friday's Chicago Tribune noted, "With Lech [Kaczynski] as president, [his brother] Jaroslaw as the power behind the government, and Law and Justice increasingly allied with some of Poland's most reactionary fringe parties, the two former child actors now find themselves at the forefront of a budding 'culture war' in Europe."

Despite being pulled together on short notice, and organized just one day before our previously scheduled Freedom to Marry Day protest, the protest against Kaczynski got widespread coverage by both local and international television. When one Polish reporter said, in a tone suggesting both a bait and question, "Do you have anyone of POLISH heritage here (on the picket line)," one of us replied, "Yes, let me suggest that you speak with SISTER Dorothy Pagosa." Kaczynski and leaders of the Catholic Church hierarchy in Poland have frequently suggested that their persecutions of Lesbians and Gays were legitimate because gay people allegedly violate Christian principles. Pagosa gave an appropriately Christian response.

Mayor Richard M. Daley breakfasting with then-Mayor Kaczynski in Warsaw, October 2005

Speakers at the protest noted that Kaczynski not only visited the notoriously homophobic George Bush the previous day, but was scheduled to be feted by the allegedly pro-gay Mayor Richard M. Daley on Saturday. While Daley occasionally makes pro-gay comments, and throws some bucks to the new gay community center on Halsted Street, millions upon millions of city tax dollars each year go to private, religious organizations like the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities which refuse to give equal benefits to their LGBT employees.

Now he treats a notorious homophobe like Kaczynski like an honored guest -- a man who has repeatedly orchestrated physical attacks on Lesbian and Gay Poles. If Daley truly was pro-gay, he'd treat people like Kaczynski as pariahs and loudly denounce their visits to our city. All LGBT Chicagoans should take note of this behavior by our allegedly "pro-gay" mayor.

In the wake of Kaczynski's accession to the Polish presidency, blatant police persecutions of gays and lesbians have taken place all over Poland, including in the cities of Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw, and Lodz. These attacks are clear violations of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, including the provision protecting the freedom of assembly and association (Chapter II-Freedoms: Article 12) and the provision ensuring non-discrimination based on sexual orientation (Chapter III-Equality: Article 21).

We encourage all readers of this article to show their solidarity with LGBT Poles by contacting the European Union:

Friso Roscam Abbing

Spokesman for Vice-President Franco Frattini

EU Commission Spokesman for Justice, Freedom and Security

tel: +32 2 296 6746

Fax: +32 2 296 0625

E-mail: friso.roscam-abbing@cec.eu.int

Also, please call the mayor's office and let him know how you feel about him treating Kaczynski as an honored guest: 312.744.3300

Below are more pictures of our Friday night protest.

Sister Dorothy Pagosa talks to the Polish press

GLN's Bob Schwartz talks to the press

Defend Polish gays

Arrest fascists, not gays

Prejudice is ignorance

Gay rights are human rights

Opposition to equal rights is bigotry


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