Anti-gay Poland is venue for gathering focused on “‘natural families;’
assistant secretary of state brings greetings from President Bush
No longer content with the obscene political and monetary profits they realize in the United States, the radical Christian right is now exporting its No. 1 product homophobia to Europe.
A few thousand zealots from the U.S. and other countries converged on Warsaw, Poland’s Palace of Culture and Science in mid-May for the World Congress of Families, a gathering that focused on “natural families.”
Just more spin another euphemism for degrading LGBT families. These folks only consider assembly-line-produced families using eggs and sperm introduced to one another through that old heterosexual standby, the missionary position, engaged in by a married, heterosexual couple to be the real thing when it comes to producing progeny.
How hateful of our kids and our families. But let’s face it hate is all these folks know, even though they couch it all in “Jesus’ love.”
The usual cast of radical Christian right characters was on hand for this particular love-to-hate fest. James Dobson from Focus on the Family was joined by folks from the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation and the Discovery Institute (which isn’t about designing good, intelligent TV programs, but instead about programming youth to believe in intelligent design).
The World Congress was organized by a group I hadn’t heard of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, whose president, Allan Carlson, declared: “The cultural battle has gone international. The American religious right, instead of being isolationist, has in fact gone global.”
Oh, joy. But what about their destination? Why Poland? Why not Rome, to be near their buddy, the pope? Or Nigeria, where Archbishop Peter Akinola is masterminding a homophobic schism within the Anglican Church?
Nope, they chose Poland because of its state-sponsored homophobia. I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill “we won’t pass a pro-bill gay bill if our lives depended on it” homophobia. This is a government that bans Pride celebrations, speaks openly about purging “homosexual propaganda” from the country, refuses to recognize the rights of lesbians and gays, and is now considering a bill that would make it illegal for any teacher in any classroom, public or private, to discuss homosexuality, LGBT rights, or safe-sex practices.
The bill would bar LGBT organizations from schools, and lesbian or gay teachers who come out would automatically be fired.
This is a government that does nothing to stop skinheads and other nationalistic groups from targeting its LGBT citizens. This is a government that is tailor-made to be the only elected Western European ally of America’s radical Christian right.
So what came out of this love-to-hate fest?
Poland’s education minister, Roman Giertych, a leader in the country’s right-wing League of Polish Families party who also happens to be a Deputy Prime Minister became the politico celebre as he told the group that combating the “propagation of homosexuality” was just “something I have to do.” His remarks were echoed by Polish President Lech Kaczynski
Rallying around the homophobic flagpole, World Congress participants cheered at the news that the Polish government would not be cowed by the European Union, which has warned Poland that its anti-gay policies might cost the country its voting rights.
They listened to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey bring greetings from W and thank the Howard Center “for all of their hard work in organizing this wonderful opportunity to celebrate and reflect upon the family and its vital role in society.”
No question that the current administration stands firmly alongside homophobic repression.
They heard Ben Bull of the Alliance Defense Fund say, “Marriage will be destroyed by making all relationships equal,” and Brigham Young law professor Lynn Wardle chime in with, “Legalizing same-sex marriage will drain marriage of its social meaning.”
They also came together to embrace the “natural family manifesto.” I think it’s kind of funny that a gathering in a former Communist country attended by those who hate Communism would support something called a “manifesto.”
But yes, there is a manifesto. It encourages mothers to stay home and have many children. It fervently opposes LGBT people and abortion in a single breath.
“It is not enough to stop public recognition of “‘gay marriage,’ nor to oppose “‘safe-sex education’ in the public schools, nor to ban partial-birth abortion, nor to create “‘covenant’ marriages. Victory for the natural family will come only as we change the terms of the debate.”
If changing the terms of debate means the wholesale exporting of hate, they’re off to a good start. I just wish folks would stop buying it here in the States. An endnote of worth: While all this homophobia is defining Poland to the LGBT world, Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz Walz defied the country’s president and ultra-right-wing organizations by allowing a Pride parade May 19. Some 5,000 marched amid bystanders who waved and were generally supportive.
Libby Post is a political commentator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 1, 2007.