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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Gay parade banned in Warsaw

The Sydney Morning Herald:

Warsaw's conservative mayor has vowed to ban an annual gay rights parade for a second year, saying that he is "against propagating gay orientation" in the Polish capital.

Mayor Lech Kaczynski, who is widely seen as a leading contender for Poland's presidency in October elections, said he would block plans by gay rights activists for a march on June 11.

He said it would interfere with plans to unveil a monument that day to Gen Stefan Rowecki, a leader of Poland's anti-Nazi underground army during World War II.

"Organising a gay parade on that day is a joke," Kaczynski was quoted as saying by the news agency PAP. "I am for tolerance, but am against propagating gay orientation."

Tomasz Baczkowski, a leader of Equality Foundation, the group organising the parade, said organisers would try to appeal a ban to regional authorities.

Last June, Kaczynski banned the fourth annual Equality Parade, saying he feared clashes between gay rights groups and opponents who planned a counter-demonstration. Despite the ban, about 500 supporters of gay and lesbian rights rallied in front of city hall, chanting "Homophobe".

A leading member of the center-right Law and Justice party, Kaczynski is widely expected to run in the October 9 election to replace centre-left President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who cannot seek a third term.

Kaczynski has won popularity as mayor for taking a tough stance on crime and promoting efforts to commemorate Warsaw's history - including a museum devoted to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and a planned museum on the history of Poland's Jews.


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