Former Polish leader unrepentant about anti-gay rant
by Heather Cassell
Poland's Nobel Peace Prize-winning former president Lech Walesa refuses to apologize for a homophobic rant he made during a television interview March 1.
"I will not apologize to anyone," he told the PAP news agency Monday.
During an appearance on TVN 24 news Friday responding to questions about current proposed legislation for civil partnerships for LGBT individuals he stated that LGBT politicians should "sit at the back of the parliament" or even "behind a wall."
"They have to know that they are a minority and must adjust to smaller things and not rise to the greatest heights, the greatest hours, the greatest provocations, spoiling things for the others and taking [what they want] from the majority," he told the newscaster. "I don't agree to this and I will never agree to it."
Walesa also commented that he would not have voted for Polish transgender Member of Parliament Anna Grodzka.
His comments outraged and caused alarm among MPs and the public.
"Why does Lech want me to sit in the back row?" asked Robert Biedron, Poland's first openly gay MP. "If we accept the rules proposed by Lech Walesa then where would blacks sit? They are also a minority. And what about the disabled?"
Jaroslaw Walesa, son of Lech Walesa and a member of the European Parliament for the center-right Civic Platform, spoke out against his father's statements over the weekend.
"I just do not agree with his comments, which are fundamentally wrong and harmful," Jaroslaw Walesa.
The older generation's "mentality has not kept pace with developments in our society and that is scary," he added.
The elder Walesa fought against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. His work to free Poland from Communism earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. He then brought democracy to Poland during his term as president from 1990 to 1995.
No longer active in Polish political life, Walesa is a respected commentator who is often asked to speak about current affairs and is active on the speaking circuit. He regularly gives lectures internationally on his role in fighting communism and on issues of peace and democracy, reported the Associated Press.
Poland is a traditionally conservative country, with more than 90 percent of its citizens saying they are Catholic.
Polish LGBT individuals are discriminated against and face homophobia, including violence, according to media reports.
Russia unveils glossy lesbian magazine
March marked the launch of Russia's latest glossy lesbian magazine.
The pilot issue of Agens, translated from Latin as "driving force," hit the newsstands this week in four locations popular with the Moscow's LGBT community. It is available online at http://www.Shop.Gay.Ru. The lesbian lifestyle magazine is selling for $9.97 a copy, reported RIA Novosti.
An independent quarterly that describes itself as "a magazine about women for women," the first issue is 120 pages and has stories about filmmaking, studying abroad, private business initiatives, and a photo fashion spread with men's cloths tailored to women. It also features coming out at work stories.
"The LGBT community has to deal with an information blackout," said Milena Chernyavskaya, editor-in-chief of Agens .
"Russian gay men and lesbians don't know each other and think that they cannot be happy, because everyone around abuses them," she said, referring to the current homophobic climate in the country.
The first print run was just under 1,000 copies.
This is the third attempt to launch a lesbian magazine in Russia. VolgaVolga (2004) and almanac Pinx (2006-2011) both folded, according to Gay.ru's website.
Yet, the magazine might be the only glossy magazine available on the newsstands to Russian LGBT's. It's brother publication, Kvir , translated "queer," will only publish online starting this year after a decade of being in print, reported the Russian media outlet.
The magazine was created by Chernyavskaya; art director Anna Roslyakova, and several contributors. It is financially backed by Chernyavskaya's best friend Maks Karpukhin, who works in the IT sector.
The magazine comes at a time when the Russian government is debating a federal bill that ban all homosexual public gatherings and media. The legislation is awaiting a second reading.
LGBT media news
In a publishing first in Russia, Coming Out, an LGBT organization based in St. Petersburg, last month released (Un)usual Families around Me, a children's book addressing traditional and non-traditional families.
The book tells stories of same-sex, transgender and gay-friendly straight and single parents' experiences and concerns about dividing families into "usual" and "unusual," and claiming one is better than the other or more valuable to society, according to a February 27 news release.
"Same-sex families feel threatened and intimidated by the homosexual propaganda law every day, just because they are raising children," said Polina Andrianova, director of Coming Out, who feels that under the current circumstances in Russia the book is "especially important" and timely.
To view the book's trailer, visit http://vimeo.com/56469664.
In Tanzania, Clouds FM radio was banned and received a $3,087 fine for broadcasting a pro-gay rights segment that featured a report on President Barack Obama's inauguration and positive statements for same-sex marriage and LGBT people during its morning program, "Power Breakfast," reported multiple media outlets.
The fine is due within a month for provoking and breaching the peace.
Two religious radio stations, Imani FM and Kwa Neema FM, also received a $3,087 fine and were banned from airing for six months under the same regulation last week, reported IPP Media.
Last summer Maurice Mjomba, an LGBT rights activist in Tanzania, was found brutally murdered in his home in Dar es Salaam. Tanzanian authorities haven't announced a capture of a suspect.
Tanzania is a highly homophobic nation with 95 percent of its citizens believing that homosexuality shouldn't be accepted as a way of life, according to a 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, reported Gay Star News. Tanzania is the seventh-highest rate of non-acceptance of LGBT individuals in the 45 countries surveyed.
Got international LGBT news tips? Call or send them to Heather Cassell at 00+1-415-221-3541, Skype: heather.cassell, or .