Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gay Parade in Warsaw Meets Jeers From Some

Rainbow flags flying, Village People and Madonna songs pumping from the floats, drag queens waving like royalty to the crowds: some things are the same at gay pride parades everywhere. But the thousands of police officers holding back clusters of jeering, egg-throwing youths here on Saturday served as a reminder that Poland was not quite Holland when it came to gay demonstrations.

Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals not just from Poland but from all over Europe and North America marched and danced their way through downtown Warsaw, calling for greater tolerance and equal rights, in particular the right to marry or at least to be joined in civil partnerships.

The event, the first Europewide gay pride parade held in a former Communist bloc country, revealed a place where gays and lesbians aspired to the level of acceptance found in Western European cities like Amsterdam and London, yet remained part of a deeply Catholic society that was still significantly more opposed to homosexuality than in the West and where politicians did not seem ready, or perhaps willing, to change that.

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