Polish conservatives win lower house but lose Senate

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ABOVE: Poland’s parliament. (From Wikimedia Commons)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) | Poland’s conservative ruling Law and Justice party capitalized on its popular social spending policies to win a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament but lost control of the Senate, according to results reported Oct. 14.

When exit polls were released after voting ended Oct. 13, the ruling Law and Justice party appeared headed for a strong victory. The results from the Senate, however, indicate that the opposition will have a tool to prevent the ruling party from rushing through laws without consulting opposition parties — something it has often done during its four years in power.

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Polish politician rescues child and father from burning car

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ABOVE: Robert Biedron. (From Wikimedia Commons)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) | A left-wing party leader in Poland has rescued a 2-year-old boy and his father from a burning car, winning praise across the political spectrum days before a national election.

The car collided with a truck and began to burn on the evening of Oct. 7 in Tabor, south of Warsaw. Robert Biedron witnessed the crash and helped the father and child until rescue officials arrived, fire officials reported.

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Ex-diplomats urge Trump to pressure Poland on rule of law

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ABOVE: President Donald J. Trump participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda in June 2019 in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Wikimedia Commons)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) | Dozens of former Polish ambassadors are telling President Donald Trump that Poland’s democracy is at risk and urging him to pressure the country’s populist government during a coming visit to respect human rights and stop flouting the constitution.

“Mr. President, you are coming to a country where the rule of law is no longer respected,” the Conference of Ambassadors of the Republic of Poland wrote in an open letter posted on its website Aug. 27.

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Polish city has peaceful pride march surrounded by police

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ABOVE: Police in Poland lead the city’s pride parade. Photo via Twitter.

PLOCK, Poland (AP) | LGBTQ activists held a central Polish city’s first pride parade with only minor incidents on Aug. 10 amid a deep divide in the country over gay and lesbian rights.

The parade in Plock, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Warsaw, came three weeks after anti-gay violence marred the first pride march in the eastern city of Bialystok. Far-right radicals attacked march participants with rocks, glass bottles and firecrackers on July 20, causing injuries and riot police to intervene.

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Polish ministers condemn violence against LGBTQ march

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Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydlo (pictured) and Interior Minister Elzbieta Witek condemned the violence by anti-gay protesters during an LGBTQ rights march. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) | Polish government officials have condemned violence by some opponents of an eastern city’s first LGBTQ rights march while other members of Poland’s right-wing ruling party were alleged to have participated in anti-gay actions.

National police said on July 22 that 28 “hooligans” were detained and charged with disturbing a legal gathering following the aggression at the march in the city of Bialystok on July 20. Opponents tried to block the march, and some threw bottles and rocks at marchers and the officers escorting them.

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Woman held in Poland for adding LGBT rainbow to revered icon

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Above: Flyers of religious icon altered with LGBT symbol (Photo: Beata Zawrzel / AP)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) | Rights groups and government critics in Poland protested on May 7 after police temporarily detained a human rights activist for putting up posters depicting the country’s most revered Catholic icon with the LGBT rainbow on the halos of Mary and baby Jesus.

Prosecutors in the central city of Plock said the woman has been questioned and has heard charges of insulting religious feelings and desecration of the icon of Mother of God of Czestochowa, popularly known as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, a painting housed at the Jasna Gora monastery in Czestochowa, in southern Poland, since the 14th-century.

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Poland’s ruling chief speaks strongly against LGBT rights

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) | The leader of Poland’s right-wing ruling party used hostile language March 16 while speaking against rights for LGBT persons, a subject that has risen to prominence in his political campaign ahead of crucial elections in Poland this year.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski spoke to Law and Justice party activists and government members at a convention in Katowice, ahead of both the European Parliament election, slated in Poland for May 26, and of Poland’s general election in the fall. The elections will decide whether Law and Justice, which is critical of European Union ways and values, will preserve the control of Poland’s parliament it has since 2015.

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Progressive politician seeks Polish ‘Spring’ with new party

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) | A former Polish lawmaker who is openly gay has launched a progressive party ahead of two upcoming elections, presenting a program that includes phasing out coal production and liberalizing the abortion law in Poland.

At a convention on Feb. 3 in Warsaw, Robert Biedron announced the party’s name, Wiosna, or “Spring,” and vowed that he would work to unify the bitterly divided country.

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Polish police use tear gas to protect gay rights march

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WARSAW, Poland (AP)| Polish police used tear gas and a water cannon on Oct. 13 against right-wing extremists who were trying to block the first equality parade in the city of Lublin in eastern Poland.

More than 1,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activists with rainbow-colored flags and banners gathered in Lublin for the parade, while around 300 right-wing opponents stood in the march’s way. Police used tear gas, concussion grenades and high-pressured water to disperse them.

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Minister in Poland calls LGBT march a ‘parade of sodomites’

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) | Poland’s right-wing defense minister has used the term “sodomites” to describe those who took part in a weekend LGBT pride parade.

Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Sunday on TV Trwam, a Catholic, pro-government station, that the march of 5,000 people the day before in the city of Poznan was an example of city authorities focusing on “ideology” rather than taking care of daily municipal issues.

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Nationalists block gay rights march to Poland’s top shrine

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) | A few dozen right-wing extremists blocked a gay rights march on its route to Poland’s holiest Catholic shrine while the prime minister was attending an event at the religious site.

About 1,000 people with rainbow-colored banners and umbrellas were heading toward the Jasna Gora shrine in the southern city of Czestochowa when they came across a police cordon that separated them from the extremists. The group of nationalists had an anti-gay banner and chanted “National Czestochowa.”

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Polish court rules against man who wouldn’t serve LGBTQ group

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday against a businessman who refused to print posters for an LGBTQ business group because he did not want to “promote” the gay rights movement.

The country’s top court said it was upholding the ruling of a lower court. The Regional Court in Lodz had argued that the principle of equality before the law meant the businessman did not have the right to withhold services from the LGBT Business Forum.

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