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Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, E/CN.4/2006/95/Add.1, March 22, 2006: Poland

432. On 5 December 2005, the Special Representative, together with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, sent an urgent appeal concerning the banning of public events organised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as well as discrimination against this community. According to information received, on 15 November 2005, the mayor of the city of Poznan banned a public event known as the Equality March, which had been organised by a number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and women’s rights organisations. The march was planned to take place on 19 November 2005 and was intended to provide a platform for discussion about tolerance, anti-discrimination and respect for the rights of sexual minorities. The ban was issued on the grounds of security concerns, despite the fact that security measures had already been agreed to between the municipality and the organisers of the march. Despite the ban, a few hundred protestors gathered on 20 November 2005 for a demonstration. The demonstrators were reportedly harassed and intimidated by members of a right wing group known as the All Polish Youth who shouted discriminatory slogans at them including ‘Let’s get the fags’, and We’ll do to you what Hitler did with Jews’. The police only intervened toward the end of the march to disperse the crowd. It is reported that in so doing the police roughly handled several individuals and arrested and interrogated over 65 persons, who were later released. Moreover, in November 2004, the Equality Parade was stopped when the police failed to protect the demonstrators from members of the All Polish Youth who blocked the event. In September 2005 a Warsaw court had declared illegal the decision of the Mayor to ban the Equality Parade. In light of the fact that Equality Parades had also been banned in Warsaw in June 2004 and in May 2005, concern is expressed that the banning of Equality March in Pozna was based primarily on intolerance towards the LGBT community in Poland. This is highlighted by the fact that political figures are reported to have publicly made homophobic statements. For example, when the Equality Parade of May 2005 was banned, Mr. Lech Kaczy, the current President of Poland and former Mayor of Warsaw, had stated that the parade would be ‘sexually obscene’ and offensive to other people’s religious feelings. Less than a week after this parade was to take place, the Mayor authorized another march to take place during which members of the All Polish Youth reportedly shouted slogans inciting intolerance and homophobia. Other political figures were also reported to have made public homophobic statements, including that if ‘homosexuals try to infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must intervene in this violation of freedoms’. Other public figures called for no tolerance for homosexuals and deviants and called on the public not to mistake the brutal propaganda of homosexual attitudes for calls for tolerance. Concern is further expressed in light of the recent abolition of the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for the Equality of Men and Women which body was responsible, inter alia, for the promotion of equal treatment sexual minorities.

433. The Special Representative regrets that at the time this report was being finalized, no response had been received from the Government of Poland to her communication of 5 December 2005 concerning the Equality March.

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