Thursday, March 1, 2007

Spreading the Word

Day 6: Spreading the Word
So the mighty staff at KPH have been slaving away today with their interviews and press releases and what not. Lisette Kampus, KPH's European Relations Officer (here she is, looking very concerned) , did a splendid job in drafting and sending out a press release. Here's the text:

[PRESS INFORMATION, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE] "Homophobia, this is what it looks like!" - Polish gay rights organization launches its social ad campaign in Warsaw 28-02-07, Campaign Against Homophobia, a well-known Polish LGBT organization, has launched its social ad campaign within the framework of the anti-homophobia action week of Council of Europe's initiative All Different All Equal. The campaign will bring two editions of posters to the streets of Warsaw, with the aim to provoke citizens to feel the level of pressure and hatred that surrounds lesbians and gays and their friends and families every day. The campaigns teaser posters "What are you staring at, faggot!?" and "What are you staring at, dyke!?" are used as a symbolic summary of all the wide-spread forms of homophobia in Poland today – regular hate-speech from the leading politicians, growing intolerance and exclusion by the other groups of society, negative stereotyping by the media etc. The teasers are to evoke the feeling of being attacked, being insulted and create an understanding of what are the effects of homophobia and the whole campaign aims to combat negative attitudes and intolerance towards lesbians and gays. Robert Biedron, president of Campaign Against Homophobia, says: “We have received a lot of reactions from the citizens of Warsaw, at first people thought this is a campaign of a far-right League of Polish Families party and this is a good proof of showing that such language is known to belong to a government party.” . Biedron also says that the teasers are doing exactly what they are to do – making people feel shocked and insulted. “This is the feeling which lesbians and gays in Poland experience every day. When the president of Poland goes to Dublin and claims that homosexuality will lead us to the end of civilization, does it shock and insult me? Absolutely. When a leading politician of a government party claims that all homosexuals are paedophiles, is that shocking? Without a doubt. There are plenty of such and even more blatant examples of homophobia from the past years. Now we have these posters up in the city, and I must say that I am proud of the people that have been calling to Clearchannel [provider of surfaces for posters] to demand these posters to be taken down because they offend gays and lesbians. This tells us that in fact people do not accept homophobia, and the views of Roman Giertych [Minister of Education, far-right League of Polish Families] or Jaroslaw Kaczynski [Prime Minister of Poland] are not representing the views of Poles.” One of the aims of the campaign is also to encourage the citizens to speak up against homophobia more, not only in the extreme cases. “We as a society have a responsibility to protect the different groups within, and speaking out against all forms of prejudices, intolerance and discrimination is our most honourable task,” says Biedron, “we should not wait until we have more and more data on hate crimes or discrimination cases, we should react now to prevent all these things from happening.”. The main posters of the campaign will be seen on the streets of Warsaw from March 5th which is also the opening date for an exhibition on collected pieces of homophobia – newspaper articles, magazine covers, news clips and much more. All of the presented materials are collected over the past years and are in a way or another symbolically highlighting the amount of hatred and prejudices that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans-people and their families and friends are surrounded by. Sentences like “we will manage without tolerance,”; “when faggots begin to demonstrate, they should be beaten with sticks,” are part of the average every-day language of Polish politicians, officials and even government members. The exhibition picks out these examples from around us, puts them on a wall, and makes it impossible to pretend that such things do not happen and homophobia is not a problem in Poland. IN SHORT - Social ad campaign and an exhibition of collected pieces of homophobia in Poland - “Homophobia, this is what it looks like!”In Warsaw, Poland, from February 26-March 14, within the framework of All Different All Equal campaign of Council of Europe. ON THE ORGANIZER -Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH) is a nation-wide LGBT organization with branches in 7 cities over Poland. KPH has been actively involved in anti-discrimination work since 2001, and has mainly been focusing on public opinion, political advocacy and policy development work in relation to LGBT matters in Poland. MEDIA CONTACTS -For Polish press - Robert Biedron, President of Campaign Against Homophobia, +48 600 950 339, For international press - Lisette Kampus, European Relations officer, +48 888 550 244, PRESS CONFERENCE: March 5th, 12:00 in Austrian Culture Forum (Prozna Street 8, Warsaw)

EXHIBITION OPENING: March 5th, 18:00 in Austrian Culture Forum (Prozna Street 8, Warsaw)

Some Hard Evidence of Hate Speech:
The press release does a good job in summarizing our stance. Naturally more will be revealed soon. But the hate speech coming from politicians is very real. This youtube clip is an interview a few years back with a politician who is now a Europarliamentarian representing Poland. He claims that President Kwasniewski was then elected due to a strong gay voting block. The conversation is more or less:
-"Fag Organizations supporting him completely."
-"Wait, what kind of organization did you call it?"
-"You know, an organization of fags." -"Don't you find that offensive?" -"You know, that's what people call them. So how else am I supposed to call them? They're fags."
Amazing Level of Crap in the Print Media
This one is also good enough to translate (roughly) in whole. This guy is a real winner with his logical thinking. The article is found in Rzeczpospolita, a rather conservative leading nation-wide newspaper:

FATHER:WHAT'S A DYKE? "What are you staring at, faggot?", "What are you staring at, dyke". KPH, along with their president Robert Biedron, want to use these phrases to enlighten us on how much gays and lesbians are discriminated in Poland. They're found on posters around the city. Driving around the city with my kids in the back seat, I am nervously waiting for the day when my 10 yr old son and 7 yr old daughter will ask: "Dad, what does 'dyke' mean?" In preparation I've started to prepare the answer. And I just can't come up with the answer. Maybe Mr. Biedron can come up with the answer, maybe he has a ready-made formula. Or maybe the Council of Europe, which came up with the "awareness raising" idea, will publish a textbook for heterosexual parents called „How to get kids used to the word ‘dyke’”.

As an opponent of any sort of pornography in public space, whether visual or verbal, I would like an end to the attack of dykes, fags, as well as naked butts in Palmer underwear ads or breasts spilling out of Playboy billboards. If anyone is discriminated in Poland, then that includes children who are not able to leave the house so that they won’t be exposed to some nasty photos or vulgar statements.

A couple more of these “homocampaigns” and I will myself begin to clarify to my son what “dyke” and “faggot” mean. But then my explanation will rather not be the one Mr. Biedron has in mind.

Marek Magierowski

Are you F**KING kidding me?!? Our dear Mr.Magierowski has perfectly summarized a common stance here in Poland: "It is not gays and lesbians who are discriminated. It's us poor (Catholic) heterosexuals!! Look, now I'll have to face the truth and explain to my children what these words mean. And I have to do this ONLY because of a "homocampaign", not because my kids will here this everyday in the schoolyard, on the streets and in TV."
Furthermore, Magierowski simply can't wait to be pushed into the corner in which he will be forced to unleash his own version of homophobia by explaining who 'fags' really are. Hats off to you, a great father indeed!
Undaunted, We Plug Away
Luckily there are a good number of us working on this campaign, supporting each other on the way.
Here, the Man with the Plan, Oiko Petersen, entices members of the Youth Group-KPH to hand out postcards around town. Oiko came up with the concept of the posters and is the photographer (who might set my modeling career into action! :-)
Leszek and Ania contemplate their tasks. Ania has done a fabulous job with the website and upcoming banners which will be featured on
And later in the night, Tomik and I hit the ground running, spreading the word far and wide. (Ok this girl we knew, but still...we were getting the word out there!). All the bars we went into to leave postcards were rather friendly and had no problem with us distributing our propaganda. Viva la gay-friendly Warsaw bars!
Tomik is usually a happy activist. He might have had one too many postcards for tonite....

1 comment:

Carla Luís said...

EHEHEH, campaigns are usually good for this kinds of things: you meet people, work in team, find out a lot of friendly & supportive people... even if the majority is not always supporting you, you can always find nice surprises and support from where you didn't imagine.
This is also very good: to "breake the ice"!
You tell me about it... the (recent) campaign regarding the lagalisation of abortion here in Portugal was sometimes also very though. The secret is never to give up!
Fortunately, we made it.
Best luck for you as well! :)