Luckily, while Poland is a member of the European Union, it is still subject to the Union's regulations, including the respect of human rights for all and the protection against unequal treatment on the basis of a person's sexual orientation. But then, outside of the most liberal European and American metropolises, it's difficult to be gay in most of the world. In addition, there are dozens of laid-back and tolerant bars and cafes, particularly in the hipper Kazimierz district where Krakow's more alternative youth tends to gather. Historically, unlike in many other Central and Eastern European countries, homosexuality was never punished by law in Poland - but to say it was tolerated is a stretch.
Today, legally homosexuality is allowed, and the age of consent for gay or straight sex is 15 years. Since Giertych's new policies were announced, the European Parliament has asked Poland to stop public leaders inciting discrimination against homosexuals. So what's the reality? In Krakow, which has a reputation of being the more liberal big city in Poland , when the parades were banned in Warsaw and Poznan , they were allowed in the city, though the first few years they were marred by many incidences of violence and protests. Krakow's gay and gay-friendly venues: To say that the homosexual visitor should be terrified and constantly hide his or her identity is as preposterous as advising one to make out with their partner in a room full of All-Polish Youth members. The latter factor also works against feminism in Poland, though acceptance of the equality of women has taken root more so than the acceptance of homosexuals which is still not saying much. Also, recently Kaczynski's move was ruled as illegal by the Court of Human Rights. During the Communist years, homosexuality wasn't a problem, because according to the government it didn't exist. So if you're a gay visitor to Krakow, we welcome you, and hope you'll only experience the positive side of life in Krakow. Granted, the fact that there were as many counter-marchers as marchers, largely led by the LPR's young soldiers in the All-Polish Youth, demonstrates that our city still has a long way to go before the Tolerance March becomes a Pride March. But then, outside of the most liberal European and American metropolises, it's difficult to be gay in most of the world. While at the moment the major organizations for promoting gay rights in Poland are The Culture for Tolerance Foundation and Campaign Against Homophobia, gay rights groups are growing in strength and in number every year, and the sheer number of gay-oriented Polish websites is a sign of the coming change. The Tolerance March , which was met with violence and throwing of eggs, rocks, and faeces resulting in several injuries in , went off with very little conflict in Any teacher who violates the law can be fired, fined, and even imprisoned - and you can forget about being homosexual and being a teacher in Giertych's regime. Sadly, it's not uncommon to hear derogatory names used for homosexuals in Poland even today. In addition to physical violence, psychological violence like taunting, mocking, threats, etc. Until , homosexuality was listed as a disease. The majority of physical violence is pushing or kicking, but many have reported being punched or beaten up as well. Filipa 7 Cracow's most long-standing gay club, and considered the best by many in the gay community. But for a country as homophobic as Poland, the gay rights movement is surprisingly strong and well-organized, especially in recent years. While in and the "Equality Parade" in Warsaw was banned by the then Mayor of Warsaw and today the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, it has proceeded in the past two years with fewer and fewer incidents of violence. In addition, there are dozens of laid-back and tolerant bars and cafes, particularly in the hipper Kazimierz district where Krakow's more alternative youth tends to gather. However, living in a deeply Roman Catholic country can make things more arduous for anyone with an alternative lifestyle. Luckily, while Poland is a member of the European Union, it is still subject to the Union's regulations, including the respect of human rights for all and the protection against unequal treatment on the basis of a person's sexual orientation. We also compiled a list of websites of GLBT organizations and different portals where Poland's homosexual community communicates on the web, and are good starting points for meeting people before coming to Krakow. But the picture isn't completely bleak.
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