Landmark Victory in Poland as Anti-Gay Harassment Results in Steep Fine
A young gay man has won a court case in Poland against a neighbor whose alleged anti-gay harassment led to abuse from others in the small town of Wolin as well.
The court ordered a woman identified only as Anna S. to pay Ryszard Giersz $5,000 and barred her from using anti-gay expletives, according to an Aug. 7 article posted by the BBC News.
The article said that the woman had allegedly hurled insults at the young man that translate into the Polish equivalents for "faggot" and "queer."
The case was described by Polish GLBT equality organizations as a major step forward due to its visibility.
Giersz was quoted as saying, "I’m a normal person and I just want to live with my partner in peace."
Added the young man, who reportedly endured death threats int he course of the case, "The last six months have completely knocked us out."
Anna S. painted herself as the wronged party in the case, saying, "All the witnesses lied."
Anna S. also claimed that she had been victimized by Giersz. "This man offended me," claimed the woman.
"He threw things at me from his window."
Added Anna S., "I’m depressed because of this and need treatment."
But it was Giersz and Tomasz, his partner, who had things thrown at them by others in the wake of Anna S.’s alleged anti-gay harangues, the article said, relating that the pair were pelted with stones and food.
The article quoted Polish GLBT equality activist Robert Biedron, who said that the victory "might be a kind of a symbol for Polish society for a change and I hope it will change people’s attitudes towards us."
Biedron, who is with the Campaign Against homophobia, was cited as claiming the case was the first to tackle anti-gay behavior in such a headlong fashion.
"It’s a case which shows the Polish people that gays and lesbians have dignity, should be treated equally," said Biedron.
The Campaign Against Homophobia helped Giersz obtain legal representation for the case, the article said.
Poland has long been ahead of the curve legally with regard to gays, with homosexuality being decriminalized in 1932 and other areas of life, such as age of consent and medical views of homosexuality, being equalized throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, according to a Wikipedia article on GLBT life in that country.
But the social climate has remained somewhat hostile, with nearly 90% of Poles surveyed saying that homosexuality is "unnatural," and marriage equality is barred in Poland.
Still, progress continues: Jews in Poland have an openly gay rabbi, Aaron Katz, whose branch of Judaism ordains gay men, according to an Associated Press story from June 28.
On the other hand, as reported by anti-gay religious site LifeSiteNews, the world’s most famous jewess has met with resistance from Poles unwilling to allow her into the country.
As the site reported in an Aug. 7 article, Madonna’s Polish stopover during her upcoming tour has sparked letters of protest, many from the deeply Catholic country’s faithful, who fear that the performer’s August 15 concert date--the same day as the Catholic Feast of the Assumption, which commemorates the legend that the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven in her intact physical body.
The site’s articled noted that Janusz Kochanowski, the country’s Commissioner for Civil Rights, condemned Madonna for her name as well as her performance style.
"Her artistic name, as well as behavior on and off the stage is perceived as provocative by many people," stated Kochanowski.
Madonna’s full birth name is Madonna Louise Ciccone.
"To organize a concert in Warsaw on the Feast of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, stirs up serious opposition and distaste," continued Kochanowski wrote.
Teh article noted that Kochanowski reagrded the right to free speech, which is enshrined in Poland’s constitution, as irrelevant in the case of Madonna’s artistic expression.
The anti-gay Catholic organization the Society for Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) saw fit to weigh in on Poland’s Madonna-centered anxiety.
The group issued a press release in which it declared, "Many see the choice of this special day as a provocation," LifeSitenews reported.
"It only adds to the controversy surrounding the 50-year-old singer who has long mixed blasphemy with sexual themes," the release continued.
"Even if the event were to be on another day, Madonna’s message is clearly offensive to Poles."