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World Report
2000-08-09

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WALESA SAYS

GAYS ARE SICK

Former Polish President Lech Walesa said recently that gays are sick, the state news agency PAP reported.

"I believe those people need medical treatment," he said at a campaign rally in connection with the upcoming presidential election. "Imagine if all people were like that. We wouldn't have any descendants."

He added, "Me, I am still the same man who respects Christian values."

According to press reports, conservative candidates for the Oct. 8 election have seized on anti-gay sentiment in an attempt to rally conservative voters. A July Demoskop Institute poll found that 55 percent of Poles have a negative opinion of homosexuality, 62 percent oppose gay marriage and 79 percent oppose allowing gays to adopt children. Almost one-third said gays are diseased and need medical care.

Only 12 percent of those polled said they know someone who is gay.

This is not the first time Walesa has been quoted making anti-gay statements. In 1990 when he was head of the Solidarity party and a presidential candidate himself, Walesa promised to "eliminate" homosexuals and drug users from society if he was elected, gay activists claimed.

The activists said Walesa made the comment in April 1990 at Solidarity's convention in Gdansk and that the remark was broadcast on radio and TV.

However, following reports of the alleged incident by this news column, Walesa's then-press secretary, Andrzej Drzycimski, accused activists of inventing the story "to get attention from ... the USA and Western Europe."

"We have looked through the records of the Second Conference of Solidarnosc Trade Union and we have not found anything like that," Drzycimski said. "There were so many foreign journalists at the conference—don't you think they would immediately pick it up if Walesa said something so stupid? ... The Solidarity movement is not declaring for discrimination of any social minority."

At the time, Polish gay activist Ryszard Kisiel, one of the sources for the report, said of Walesa: "He's the stereotypical model of the Catholic Pole. He has a lot of charisma and a lot of influence among the proletariat. ... I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of support for these [ anti-gay ] ideas."

PLANS TO

REPEAL SECTION

28 SCRAPPED

British Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly will postpone until after next spring's elections his attempts to repeal the anti-gay law known as Section 28, following the House of Lords' rejection of repeal legislation July 24.

The vote was 270 to 228. The U.K.-wide law prohibits cities from "intentionally promot [ ing ] homosexuality" or teaching "the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship" in schools.

The law was repealed locally in Scotland by the newly created Scottish parliament on June 21.

SACKED BRITISH SOLDIERS

COMPENSATED

The four sacked servicemembers who filed the lawsuit that led the European Court of Human Rights to strike down Britain's military gay ban last year were awarded compensation by the court on July 25.

They each received about $30,000 for emotional and psychological distress and between $64,000 and $152,000 for loss of earnings and benefits. The British government also was ordered to pay their legal fees.

At least one other person sacked under the gay ban has received a payout. Michael Stalker got about $16,000 last February just before his discrimination complaint was to go before an employment tribunal.

The Ministry of Defence reportedly has set aside several million pounds to pay other such claims.

AUSTRIA PROSECUTES GAY TEEN

The Austrian government is unhappy that a 19-year-old man prosecuted for having sex with his 16-year-old boyfriend received only a fine, and is appealing the sentence.

Sex is legal in Austria at age 14 unless it is between two males, in which case both have to be at least 18.

"It's incredible," said Helmut Graupner, the man's attorney and a spokesman for Platform Against Article 209 ( the law that sets the higher age-of-consent for gay sex ) . "Whereas in the rest of Europe the 'deed' would not bother any prosecutor or judge, and whereas this is also the case in Austria if relations are heterosexual or lesbian, this juvenile has been meticulously interrogated by the police, hauled before the court and sentenced for being a sex criminal, just because his and the sex of his partner is male. But that's not even enough. The prosecution wants more."

TRANNY TO REPRESENT N.Z. AT INT'L CONFAB

Transsexual Member of the New Zealand Parliament Georgina Beyer has been chosen by the New Zealand Labour government's parliamentary caucus to represent the nation at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference.

"It is a fairly prestigious conference to attend and one of the more 'glam' parliamentary trips to get to go on," Beyer told Auckland's OUT! magazine. "The Queen will open the conference in London on 20th September and we spend a few days there before the conference venue shifts to Edinburgh where it finishes on the 29th."

Beyer will then head to New York to discuss human-rights and environmental issues at the United Nations and to meet with GLBT organizations, she told OUT!.

JUDGE OKs AUSSIE INSEMINATIONS

Australian Federal Court Judge Ross Sundberg struck down the state of Victoria's ban on in-vitro fertilization of non-married women July 28.

A Melbourne doctor had challenged the ban as a violation of federal sex-discrimination laws.

At present, only two other states— New South Wales and Tasmania—permit single women and lesbian couples to access fertility services.

Read the weekly opinion column "The Wockner Wire" at http://www.planetout.com/wocknerwire/

The international telephone access code 011 is for dialing from the USA and Canada. Elsewhere, replace 011 with your own international access prefix.


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