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Polish discrimination contravenes EU law

November 25, 2005 4:00 PM

As the Catholic fundamentalist prime minister of Poland Kazimierz Macinkiewicz visited the UK, Liberal Democrat European Justice spokeswoman and London MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford pressed the European Commission to take firm action against the increasingly homophobic attitudes being fostered in Poland under the new right-wing government.

A peaceful equalities march last weekend in the city of Poznan was violently broken up by police and marchers arrested, while Mr Macinkiewicz, who believes that homosexuality is unnatural, apparently intends to abolish the equalities enforcement body the 'Office of the Plenipotentiary for Equal Status' which enforces equality for women and gay people, a body required under EU law.

Sarah Ludford, a member of the European Parliament' Gay & Lesbian Rights intergroup, said:

"Repressive and intolerant behaviour is quite rightly condemned when it takes place in a country seeking EU membership, but when it occurs in an existing member state, a blind eye seems to be turned. This is gutless hypocrisy."

When Sarah along with other members of the intergroup asked the Commission in June to say whether the ban on an Equality Pride march in Warsaw in by the then Mayor of Warsaw Mr Lech Kaczynski breached EU human rights principles, the Commission said it was a matter for national law.

The Council of Ministers, representing EU governments, said 'The Council has never discussed this matter which is not within the competence of the EU institutions." Worryingly, Mr Kaczynski is now President of Poland.

Sarah Ludford commented:

"The Polish situation shows the need for 3 things: wider EU gay equality laws going beyond the current coverage of employment rights; a political willingness from Brussels to treat homophobic speech and actions as a severe breach of EU human rights principles; and infringement proceedings for failure to implement specific EU laws on workplace equality."