Gay pensioners not welcome in town (on posters)

19 12 2007

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza daily (19 Dec 2007)
Authors: Emilia Iwanciw, Aleksandra Lewińska
Translation: MoPoPressReview
link to the original article

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Posters containg confessions like ‘I’m a pensioner, I’m gay’, ‘I’m a pharmacist, I’m lesbian’ will not be hung in the city of Bydgoszcz. The company managing the advertising pillars did not agree. Therefore Bydgoszcz will not be taking part in the nationwide campaign, aiming to raise the gay people’s self-esteem.

The action called ‘You are not alone’ is an initiative of the Toruń branch of the Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH) Association. 500 posters were placed in Toruń on Monday, previously similar posters appeared in Tricity. The characters featured in the posers admit to having different sexual orientations. Although it is not possible to recognise them, each is signed with a name, we’re told what they do for living, and in which city district they live. –‘Our message is aimed to reach both homosexual and heterosexual people’, says Agnieszka Szpak, KPH coordinator. – ‘The former we want to make aware of the fact they are not alone, and the latter that just next to them live people who although seem different, are very similar.’

We showed the posters to several people passing-by the Gdańska street in Bydgoszcz yesterday afternoon. They didn’t seem outrageous to most people we met. 23-ear-old Karol was surprised: – ‘I didn’t know there are so many gay people in Bydgoszcz.’

75-year-old Zofia was upset at first: – ‘A gay pensioner? When someone is a pensioner does he have to be gay?’ letnia pani Zofia początkowo się obruszyła: – When we explained her what is this action for, her attitude softened: – ‘These posters make no harm to anyone. People are born like that.’

The agency managing the advertising pillars thought the opposite. The action that will run nationwide, was supposed to begin in Bydgoszcz yesteday as well. I didn’t because the ReMedia company denied the advertising space. – At the agency at first I heard that our posters could offend the dignity of onlookers. Then in their official e-mail I read about a “possible disapproval of the passers-by” – says Szpak.

Remedia’s employee admits she didn’t agree to cooperate with the association – ‘The subject of the posters is cntroversial. Although it doesn’t offend my dignity, people are different’ – she says, asking for her name not to be published. – ‘I was worried that the City Council (which owns the pillars) might not like these posters. And if so, we could have been fined.’

‘An action like this doesn’t offend anyone’ – says Maciej Grześkowiak, deputy mayor of Bydgoszcz, responsible for the city’s image. – But since it inflicts controversies, I’ll order the content of the posters to be analysed. I would also like ReMedia t o have a meeting with the Public Roads Department and settle what to do in such instances in the future.’

Is there a chance to still have the Campaign Against Homophobia in Bydgoszcz? – I ask the ReMedia co-owner.
‘Since there is so much fuss about this, the association can come and hang their posters even today’ – answers Magdalena Florek.

KPH coordinator: – This year we won’t make t to print more posters, but we’ll decide on what we’ll do in the next days. If all of us agree, we might launch this action in Bydgoszcz in January.

Michał Cichoracki, a sociologist for Gazeta Wyborcza- The company which denied posters to be hung, has auto-censored themselves. Probably due to fear from the different. It’s because for many years this subject was being swept under the carpet. Luckily the younger generation homosexuality doesn’t inflict negative emotions. Young people are not affraid of the different. However as long as we’re still discussing this, it means the problem of homophobia still exists in our society.

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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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