Gays and lesbians subject to violence

24 03 2007

Source: Metro of March 23rd 2007
Author: Łukasz Antkiewicz

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Lesbians and gays more often come out at school and at work, however aggression towards them is increasing as well – says a report published by LGBT organisations.

According to the estimates, there are 2.5 million homosexual people in Poland. First detailed survey on how they live was being conducted by Lambda and Campaign Against Homophobia associations. We have seen the first results.

Vocal about themselves

Gays are more eager to come out in their environments. 20 percent came out at work, and over 30 percent at school. 80 percent of gays and lesbians come out to their mothers. One in seven would not be afraid to kiss their partner on the street. – ‘Some part of the society has finally realised, that we too have the right to lead normal life, to work and to love. They accept us, and that is why there is more courage to come out’ – says Yga Kostrzewa of Lambda.

And you do need courage to do that. As the authors of the report explain, the agression towards gays and lesbians increases. One in five said that they are affected by physical and verbal/mental violence. Over 70 percent were pushed, hit, kicked, or nudged. A couple from Rzeszów, 27-year-old Łukasz and 24-year-old Marek have felt the violence on their own skin. They were mugged and beaten twice. – ‘We were just leaving a gay bar, and some chavs were waiting for us behind the corner. They kicked us, took our wallet and a mobile phone’ – says Łukasz. Although the aggression, not many victims report to the police. Only 15 percent does that. Why? There were reports that the police officers, who are supposed to provide help, were humiliating gay victims. – We don’t discriminate against anyone. For a policeperson the sexual orientation, faith, or skin colour is not important – says surprised Krzysztof Hajdas of The Police Headquarters.

League of Polish Families: We only stigmatise

For the increase of violence, homosexuals blame the extreme right politicians, like the deputy Minister of Education Mirosław Orzechowski, who threatened to fire gay teachers. – ‘Politicians cause that aggression, by offending and stigmatizing homosexual people’ – says Marta Abramowicz of Campaign Against Homophobia. Marek Szopski, academic from Warsaw University agrees: ‘In current climate, it’s hard to be surprised with the increase of violence targeted at homosexual people. Since the central authorities publicly condemn homosexuals, some groups see it as a consent for fighting with gays’.

Krzysztof Bosak, League of Polish Families MP replies: ‘These accusations are absurd. We are not responsible for violence against gays and lesbians. We only stigmatise their behaviour’.

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