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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Toruń: Arson possible cause of fire, which destroyed priceless medieval mansion

16 03 2007

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza of March 16,2007
Author: Wojciech Giedrys


Fire destroyed yesterday one of the oldest medieval mansions on the Toruń’s Old Town. Extinguishing action took until late evening. All fire fighter units from the City of Torun were engaged, as well as volunteer fire fighter units from nearby villages. No one was injured.

Fire Department received the alert just before 10 am. Medieval building made of red brick consists of 3 joined mansions, one of which was affected by the fire. Popular pub was located on the ground floor, however the rest of the building was unoccupied.

Firemen were there after four minutes from having been alerted. – ‘Fire spreaded intensely’ – said Paweł Frątczak, regional Kuyavian-Pomeranian Fire Department spokesman. – ‘It was a diffiult action, but a successful one, because the fire did not transfer to other buildings, and no one was injured.’ (…)

The situation was under control after couple minutes. – ‘The burning wooden roof fell down and stopped on the ground floor, we could not enter inside’.

‘Access to the building was available only from one side. Every few moments bricks were falling on the street, due to high temperature. Walls were breaking because of that. There is a threat the remains of the building will collapse, and that is why part of the street will be fenced off, and monitored by the police’ – says Frątczak. – The fate of the building will decide on Friday, on special meeting of building inspectors and Conservation Officer.

The financial losses caused by the fire are not yet estimated. The cause of the fire is also not yet known: a fire fighting expert will give his opinion shortly. Arson is one of possible options. According to the witnesses, two men ran out of the building, shortly before the smoke appeared. Should you have any information relevant to the matter, call 997.

Medieval house at 6 Mostowa St. dating from the turn of the fourteenth century is one of the most precious in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Toruń’s Old Town. It is a similar building to the famous Copernicus House. Conservation Officer Lech Narębski, observing the fire from his office at the Mostowa Gate, said that the ‘looks with pain at how the fire destroys the historical sight. This is one of the oldest mansions in our town. It will not be possible to recreate its interiors. Everything we will do, will only be a poor copy. It is certain I will defend every brick.’

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€5,000 reward for information about stolen diamonds

16 03 2007

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza of March 15, 2007, PAP
Author: Grzegorz Szaro

1,3 million euro worth of diamonds have been stolen at the Gdansk International Fair (MTG). Police have not yet captured the thief. The company has declared it will reward 20,000 zł (€5000) for help in finding the criminal.

The police informed before that the stolen diamonds belonged to Belgian company, however it turned out that they were in fact property of Dutch traders taking part in the Ambertiff, fair of amber, jewellery and gemstones. (…)

On Wednesday, during the first day of the fair, company representatives submitted the diamonds to deposit: a safe in the basement under the fair building.

When, on Thursday morning, they wanted to move the diamonds into their exposition stand, they were gone.

‘We do not have any suspects, however we are proceeding with an intensive enquiry: we question MTG employees and exhibitors’ – the Gdansk police spokeswoman Dominika Przybylska told us.

Przybylska added, that as we spoke, the police were investigating at the crime scene and clarifying the circumstances. Several witness had been questioned until then.

The fair will not close down

When fair organisers learned about the theft, they considered closing it down. However, after consulting the police, it was decided to continue with fair agenda.

‘This is the largest jewellery trade fair. Traders from 48 countries were preparing themselves for a year, and they would not appreciate closing the fair down’ – says the deputy president of Gdansk International Fair Tomasz Hołdys. And added that for the sake of investigation, the police obliged to keep details in secret.

According to Hołdys ‘such theft might have happened on any such fair around the world. – Our jewellery storage system is very good, and the fair area professionally monitored. We have been organising Aberiff for 14 years – he stressed. – ‘As you can see, every system can be broken if there is someone who really wants to do it’ – sighs Hołdys.

Ambertiff fair will last until Sunday. 480 exhibitors from around the world are taking part.

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