Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Help the Polish Queer Community!

1
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 12:24:40 -0500
From: "Julie Land"
Subject: Queers in Poland!

I noticed that on this listserve there was a recent post regarding protests
of Polish president, Lech Kaczynski's visit to the United States in reaction
to his treatment of the GLBT community in Poland. I was overjoyed to see
that the Queer community elsewhere has taken notice of the situation in this
country. As many of you may already know the situation for sexual
minorities in Poland has grown increasingly worse over the last few years as
a result of a conservative backlash to the increasingly vocal GLBT community
and globalization (read accession into the European Union). For the last
two summers Kaczynski, as the mayor of Warsaw, cancelled pride parades, and
the situation has grown violent at some points as tolerance marches in
Krakow, and more recently Poznan have drawn violent reactions. However,
what many people do not know is that the situation will likely worsen, as
Kaczynski has only recently begun his 5 year term as president, and funds
for NGOs and other organizations dealing with GLBT and sexual minority
rights have become even more scarce in the past couple of years.
From my vantage point in Krakow, I can see that there is real fear and
uncertainty within the GLBT community. Organizing has, in a way, become
more difficult since Poland joined the European Union; western funds which
were previously supporting social justice causes have all but disappeared
under the assumption that the Union's structural and cohesion funds would
fill the void. Indeed, it was widely believed that when Poland entered the
EU, the non-profit and NGO sector (a key part of civil society) would live
on and even thrive, however this has not been the case. Money coming out of
Brussels is distributed to the national and regional authorities of the
member states, and the Polish government is rarely willing to pass the money
along to causes relating to, for example, the liberation of women or sexual
minorities. If one keeps abreast of the Polish news, they might find that
this month the government allocated millions of Polish zloty to build a new
Catholic Church (in a nation of many thousands of Catholic Churches), which
would serve as a shrine and a museums for Catholic pilgrims. Yet,
practically in the same moment, one of the nation's oldest and most
respected feminist organizations lost its office space in Krakow due to a
lack of rent money. The situation at the moment seems bleak. Many of us
who watched Brokeback Mountain (it premiered this weekend in Poland) saw the
film not as an historical text, but rather as a commentary on the reality
and difficulty of life for the Queer community in Poland.
Yet, there are still sights of resistance. At the end of April in Krakow
the Foundation of a Culture for Tolerance will hold the Festival for a
Culture of Tolerance (http://www.tolerancja.org.pl/english/), which will
include cultural, social, practical, and academic aspects, but the most
important and most visible part of the festival will be the "March for
Tolerance" to take place on the 28th of April. Already posters have
appeared throughout the streets of Krakow proclaiming "Stop Homosexual
Depravity and Deviation" and urging the citizens of Krakow to try to prevent
the march from taking place. With the all-to-recent memory of skinheads
wielding bats, throwing stones, and shouting "We'll do with you what Hitler
did to the Jews" and "Queers to the gas," there is fear that the march in
April will be met with violence, but on a scale even larger than before.
Support from the Queer community is desperately needed here in Poland!
Letters written to Polish Consulates and Embassies, telling them that the
world is watching and that GLBT rights are Human Right, will send the
message that further violence and the denial of basic rights will not be
tolerated (for the addresses of Polish embassies throughout the world,
visit: http://www.learn4good.com/travel/poland_embassies.htm). Parties or
other benefits to raise money for NGOs and other organizations dealing with
GLBT liberation in Poland (and especially the Foundation of a Culture for
Tolerance) would also be a great way for Queers to unite across borders and
help a community that going through a particularly difficult period. But
the letters and the money aside, it is crucial that you spread the word
about what is happening here in Poland. Forward this email far and wide;
tell your friends, and keep your eyes on the news. Kaczynski and his
government must feel the heat of public opinion weighing down on their every
action, and they must be forced to face the problems of homophobia in this
country. The Queer community is everywhere, and when our voice is heard in
its full fury we cannot be stopped! Thank you for your time and for reading
to the end. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact
me: jmland04AThotmail.com ,
or go to the Fundacja website: http://www.tolerancja.org.pl/english/

Sincerely, Julie Land

1 comment:

AaronZimmer said...

This is off topic - I'll be brief. This message is for Maggie, I'm looking for your brother Paul. I went to CBA with him and am dying to get back in touch with him. (I'm resorting to crashing a blog) Please email me at aaron@thezimmergene.com.
Thanks a lot! --Aaron