07 November 2006

Kinderen voor Kinderen song - Two Fathers

If there's one thing I love, it's people expressing our need to embrace our differences as a single humanity. This sentiment is increased ten-fold when I see children propogating such a message, as they truly serve as a litmus test to collective societal attitude. This video features a Dutch boy praising his fathers through song and really is worth viewing. (Thank you to my lovely friend Frank who sent this to me, and who will one day make a most fantastic father himself.)

My kudos to Dutch television for broadcasting a very positive piece on same-sex parents from the perspective of a child, especially on a children's program! This is a huge step towards teaching children from a young age we should celebrate our differences by teaching through such a positive manner (I can only imagine what would happen if this was aired on American tv....)

Sadly, this climate of acceptance isn't universal. I'm reposting something Becca wrote about the institutionalisation of homophobia by the Polish government on a blog she contributes regularly to:

I was going to write a post about the upcoming local elections. They fall on my birthday, and as I’m an EU citizen registered to vote in Warsaw, I’m going to have to take time out of my partying and present opening to go and vote, but I don’t know who to vote for. I was going to ask for your help in choosing. First though, I need your help for something so much more important.
I came to Warsaw originally to take part in a European Voluntary Service project. This has now finished, and I’m running a second follow-up project, but a few days ago I received an email from a current EVS volunteer. She’s working with the Campaign Against Homophobia organisation, here in Warsaw, and the Ministry of Education seems to have decided to wage war on them.
I’d better give you a bit of background, or it’s not going to be clear how the ministry could have such an impact on a section of civil society. EU funds for EVS are managed by National Agencies for the Youth Programme in member countries. The Polish National Agency is governed by the Foundation of Educational Development, which was established by the Ministry of Education.
EVS projects have to be submitted to and approved by a committee in the National Agency. This brings us back round to the Campaign Against Homophobia, whose latest project was rejected on the following grounds:
[The] “majority of members of the Selection Committee stated that [the] project of [the] Campaign is against the policy of raising children and youth, which is implemented by the Ministry. The policy of [the] Ministry does not support actions that aim to propogate homosexual behaviour and such attitude[s] among young people. Also, the role of [the] Ministry is not to support cooperation of homosexual organisations.”
When I first read that my brain hissed and fizzed and then my head exploded. Oh sure, we all know this country’s administration is homophobic, but to have such a blatantly discriminatory statement from the Director of the Youth programme in Poland (a programme whose aims include giving young people “a better understanding of cultural diversity and the fight against any form of racism and xenophobia or discrimination”) is just very simply wrong.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski knows how to sweet talk the Brussels lot. “I ask you not to believe in the myth of Poland as an anti-semitic, homophobic and xenophobic country… People with such preferences have full rights in Poland, there is no tradition in Poland of persecuting such people.” You can ask me not to believe what you like Jarek, but when a ministry is persecuting organisations that are working against discrimination, I’m just not going to believe you.
The Ministry of Education is spitting out homophobic statements left right and centre, with absolutely no shame nor the slightest inkling that what it’s doing is wrong. A different LGBT project that was funded by the Youth Programme last year was considered a “depravation of young people” and it was said that “as this project was financially supported under the Ministry of Education, we seriously need to review the criteria of supported projects. […] The rules and priorities of the programme under which such projects get money, need to be changed in order to prevent such projects getting money in the future.”
These attitudes get me foaming at the mouth with rage, and when I hear Giertych and his cronies have got their way so far, and have managed to block projects that deal with homophobia from getting EU funding, even accusing organisations of fraud, when the project documents prove otherwise, I want to scream.

I’ve had enough and I hope you have too.

If you do one good deed this week, hell, this year, let it be this: write to someone.

The European Comission has a responsibility to stand up to member states that propogate such poisonous attitudes. Write to:
- Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
- Vladimir Spidla, Commissioner of Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
- Anyone you like at the Directorate General for Education and Culture

Your Member of the European Parliament has a responsibility to target discrimination, wherever it rears its ugly head and get the issue into the public sphere. Write to:
- your MEP

The National Agency has a responsibility to distribute EU funds according to the principles stated in the Youth Programme and the founding treaties of the EU. Education ministry bigots cannot be allowed to retain the power to pick and choose projects according to personal preferences. There are clear guidelines for EVS projects. If the requirements are met, they should be funded. Write to:
- the National Agency

We all have a responsibility not to sit back and watch as Poland sinks in a bog of ignorance and discrimination. Those of us who went on the equality parade have already showed solidarity with those people fighting discrimination. Don’t stop there, do more.

Then you can tell me which of the Warsaw candidates is the least homophobic, so I can go out and vote on Sunday.

More information here.

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