Poland's Bigoted Government
New York Times, 11 June 2006
formerly Communist countries that eagerly joined
the European Union are balking at the social policies
that come with democracy. They are led by the union's
largest new member, Poland,
which is now run by a right-wing nationalist government
that seems intent on violating the rights of minority
groups, beginning with an attack on gays.
government is led by the conservative Law and Justice
Party, founded by the identical twin brothers who now
run Poland: Lech Kaczynski, the country's president,
and his brother Jaroslaw, who leads the party. Law
and Justice got its parliamentary majority by aligning
itself with two dangerous fringe parties: Self-Defense,
a peasant party whose leader openly admires the dictator
of Belarus, Aleksander Lukashenko; and the League of
Polish Families, an ultra-right-wing Catholic party.
Human Rights Watch reports that
a League parliamentarian, Wojciech Wierzejski, accused
homosexuals of running pedophile, drug-trafficking
and other criminal organizations. At his urging, the
state has instructed local prosecutors to investigate
homosexuals for pedophilia.
President Kaczynski banned gay
rights marches when he was mayor of Warsaw and members
of the League's youth wing have attacked gay rights
marchers. Mr. Wierzejski said that people who marched
in a gay rights demonstration planned in Warsaw this
weekend should be "bashed
with a baton."
The problems go well beyond
homophobia. The preferred broadcasting outlet of Poland's
government is Radio Maryja, a Catholic radio station
with millions of listeners that is openly nationalist,
anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner. It has resisted admonishments
from Pope Benedict to stop talking about politics.
Radio Maryja's support was crucial in Lech Kaczynski's
presidential campaign and Jaroslaw Kaczynski is a frequent
guest on the radio station.
In late May, Poland's chief
rabbi, Michael Schudrich, was punched in the chest
and sprayed with what appeared to be pepper spray by
a young man shouting "Poland
for the Poles." President Kaczynski personally
apologized to Rabbi Schudrich and condemned anti-Semitism.
But the rest of the government's actions give an official
wink to bigotry.
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