Participants in a “parade for tolerance”, consisting of around 1000 people, in Krakow in Poland on Friday have been attacked by right wing youth.

The members of the All Polish Youth group – which also attacked a similar Krakow parade in 2004 – are said to have ties to Poland’s homophobic President Lech Kaczynski and his government. Marcinkiewicz recently stated that homosexuality is unnatural.

The parade’s route was changed at the last minute to avoid clashing with a counter-protest organised by the youth group. Nevertheless, the right wingers, carrying homophobic placards, sought out the parade and a confrontation ensued. Participants were pelted with stones and eggs and some were beaten by the youth, with a number of people admitted to hospital.

Riot police moved in to defuse the situation and more than 20 people were arrested, but later released.

The European Union has slammed the Polish government for its homophobic policies and actions and has threatened to rescind its voting right in the EU. The European Parliament passed a resolution on January 18, 2006 condemning homophobia and explicitly noting the “banning of gay pride or equality marches” in Poland.

While he was mayor of Warsaw, President Lech Kaczynski, banned a pride parade in the capital in June last year. The event went ahead but also came under attack by opponents. Attempts to hold a pride parade in the city of Poznan towards the end of last year resulted in participants being arrested by police.

Last week, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) sent a letter to Marcinkiewicz asking him to protect participants in Friday’s March. The letter asked that he “publicly command that police forces protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender marchers and their supporters who participate.”

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