Monday, September 12, 2011

Gay rights in Poland and the RCC

I talked in a recent post about the efforts of the Catholic Church to deny reproductive rights in Poland. I've learned of another WikiLeaks US cable from 2009, this one concluding that "Polish society and the Polish Government have a long way to go toward ending discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" and citing the RCC as a major "source of anti-gay views":
Gays and lesbians face discrimination in the educational system, in the workplace, when renting or buying property, and in access to health services. Some have been subject to or threatened with physical violence on the basis of their sexual orientation....


The Catholic Church plays a significant role in the formation and propagation of anti-gay attitudes in Polish society, especially in rural areas. In a society that is 94 percent Catholic, the Church is widely recognized as a political and moral force. While the Polish Episcopate has condemned violence and discrimination against gays and lesbians, this message is often ignored - and sometimes contradicted - by parish priests in small towns and villages, some of whom present homosexuality as a deviant condition. Moreover, the Church continues to label homosexual acts as sins and calls on homosexuals to practice abstinence. Most Polish opponents of gay rights cite "Catholic values" and "natural law" to support their views. In November 2008, for example, users of the internet forum "Fronda" launched a boycott campaign against IKEA in response to its gay-friendly advertising. The campaign was named "I'm a Catholic and I don't shop in IKEA."
I'm troubled that the story of these cables and the dismal situation of sexual and reproductive rights in Poland (this article places it within a broader context of pro-natalist policies in the region that have disproportionately harmed women) has appeared of late almost exclusively on rightwing Catholic blogs and sites - I found the most recent cable through a link to something called LifeSiteNews, which I won't link to. It does seem to be under discussion to some extent elsewhere. A conference earlier this week was apparently organized to foster acceptance of the role of the Church in Polish politics: "'The goal of this conference is a mutual discussion about what is missing in our current political system and what values politics should serve,' conference organizer Wladyslaw Zuziak was quoted as saying by the Catholic News Agency." At the event, though, German president Christian Wulff warned against people with "convictions that divide people into 'us' and 'them' based on culture, religion or nationality" coming to power and that "fanatical Christianity can bring suffering."

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