Gay teachers' status uncertain after Polish election

Sunday, September 25, 2005

In the days leading up to the parliamentary election in Poland on September 25, 2005, several prominent members of the political party PiS made statements which suggested that the party supported discrimination against gay teachers. Initial results of the election indicate that PiS is likely to have a relative majority, leading to a possible political pressures against gay teachers (or recruitment of gay teachers) during the term of the future Polish government.

The Polish news agency PAP reported on September 21, 2005, that Jarosław Kaczyński, twin brother of party leader Lech Kaczyński, said that homosexuals should not be teachers, but also that homosexuals would not be persecuted. PAP cited the daily Fakt. In an interview on Polish national television the following day, another member of PiS, Adam Bielan, made statements which suggest that people in PiS generally share this attitude, but that the party, through its president, Lech Kaczyński, was not yet willing to make any formal statement on the issue.

Adam Bielan stated, for example, that a statement attributed to Lech Kaczyński, published in Fakt, saying that homosexuals can be teachers, was an error by Lech Kaczyński's colleague, and that the statement was unauthorised. He also stated,

Our opinion is that homosexuals should be tolerated in Poland, they should not be discriminated against in any way, however, there are certain professions ... such as the teacher's profession. In particular, this concerns professions of people who have contact with children.
(original: My uważamy, że homoseksualiści powinni cieszyć się w Polsce tolerancją, nie powinni być w żaden sposób dyskryminowani, natomiast są pewne zawody ... na przykład zawód nauczyciela. ... To są przede wszystkim zawody ludzi, którzy mają kontakt z dziećmi.)

Prominent members of PiS have earlier put pressure on the gay rights community. PiS leader Lech Kaczyński, as mayor of Warsaw, refused to authorize the Equality Parade for gay rights on June 11, 2005 in Warsaw. The Parade took place despite the ban, and the level of violence against participants was greater than in previous gay rights parades: many eggs, stones and bottles were thrown at participants, injuring at least two people, who were hospitalized.