TV & Radio
Stanislav Bunin loves touring Japan, even after 20 years
Kumi Matsumaru / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Pianist Stanislav Bunin says he has a special fondness for Japan. But it's not because of the so-called Bunin boom that took place in the nation 20 years ago or his thoughtful, charming Japanese wife.
"Actually, it wouldn't matter if she was, say, Ethiopian," he joked in a recent interview with The Daily Yomiuri. "I'm attracted to Japan because of the people's mentality, their drive for life and the country's rich nature."
"In addition, the audience in Japan always tries to accept everything that I play. That makes me treat each of my concerts here like my own child." he said in German interpreted by his wife.
Bunin knows Japan, well having performed up and down the country year after year and insists its nature is as beautiful as anything found in Europe.
"You will realize this if you throw concerts throughout Japan as much as I do. While traveling from Sapporo to Okinawa, you can find all kinds of wonderful nature and different climates," said Bunin, who holds about half of the 35 or so official concerts he performs every year in Japan.
The Moscow native from an established musical family--a descendant of both Heinrich Neuhaus, the founder of a Soviet piano school, and the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski--will play in Tokyo and two other cities in June and July together with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. The event will mark the 20th anniversary of his debut in Japan.
According to Bunin, the concerts will present numbers by, among others, Mozart and Chopin, with the latter being the composer with whom he is most closely associated. Last year, tickets to his concert tour in Japan with a Chopin-only program sold out.
"When playing in front of the audience, I always try to bring out more than what I have," Bunin said. "It is a risky thing to do for a pianist because we pianists do have a certain format in the way of presenting what we practiced at the right place. But when I play, especially here, I try to express more than what I have practiced."
Bunin said part of his affection for Japan also came from the feelings of "nostalgia" that have developed within him during the past 20 years.
In 1983, Bunin became the youngest winner of the first prize in the Concours International Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud piano competition in Paris at the age of 17. He also won first prize and the gold medal in the 11th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1985.
Following these successes, he started playing concerts all over the world, soon sparking the so-called Bunin phenomenon in the United States and Europe.
A similar phenomenon also was ignited in Japan, especially in the wake of a television program featuring the young pianist. While holding recitals amid the boom, he played with orchestras and often appeared in the Japanese media. In particular, fans of Chopin's music seem to be particularly fascinated by him.
"I remember what happened to me while spending my first cold summer in Hamburg after I was exiled from the former Soviet Union in June 1988," Bunin recalled. "The summer was very cold in northern Germany, and I had no warm things to wear."
"Then I talked about the experience on a Japanese television program. Although I have no idea how it was broadcast, two weeks later I received three boxes of warm socks, sweaters and mufflers from viewers in Japan."
Bunin said that in Europe, he feels he plays as a friend or guest of the audience.
"But I play in Japan as one of the citizens, or as a salaryman, because of my long relationship with the country," he said with a smile.
Bunin seems to understand almost everything he is asked in Japanese and at times even responded to questions in Japanese. He also enlivens his comments with jokes, challenging the image of a pianist who is often viewed as a very serious performer, partly due to his background.
According to his office, Bunin and his wife, who always travels with him on concert tours, speak in German for two-thirds of the time and Japanese for the remaining time.
Bunin is now based in Hamburg, and regularly comes to Japan, where he also has a home. Besides Japan, he plays mainly in Germany, Italy and other European countries. The interview took place a day after his return from a performance in Seoul.
During the 23 years since his piano competition victory in Paris, Bunin said his philosophy of music had become more complicated.
"I have become more cautious or cowardly when playing," he said. "When playing the piano, I used to be like a bird freely flying without any concern. Of course, playing like that was a stimulating and glamorous thing to do."
"Take Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, for instance. I now want to fully explore it and bring out all the hidden beauty of the number. Persevering with such small efforts forms part of my musical philosophy," Bunin said. "After all, 20 years are too short to create wonderful music. Do you know, the piano concerto has been around for 220 years?"
According to Bunin, who says he sweats "at least 1.2 liters" per performance, securing the right clothes for performing is a lesser, but still big issue, because without suitable attire he feels like he's been "soaked in a hot spring by the end of a performance."
And that is another thing he finds charming about Japan. He has had all of his tailcoats made at a shop in Ginza after being impressed by their fine tailoring.
This year marks the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, but Bunin says he always plays Mozart's works anyway.
"At the upcoming concert, I will play Piano Concerto No. 23--my favorite among Mozart numbers," he said.
He said No. 23 is special for him because he has played it at a number of important moments in his life.
"First, I won the Paris competition with this number. I also made my debut in Tokyo with this piece in 1986."
"But there is one thing I need to mention," he said.
"I received the Gold Disc award for my recording of Mozart's piano on Toshiba-EMI, but I still haven't got one for my Chopin numbers," he said with a mischievous smile.
Stanislav Bunin will play with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra June 27 at 7 p.m. at Suntory Hall in Akasaka Tokyo, July 3 at 7 p.m. at Arkas Sasebo in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, July 6 at 7 p.m. at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, and July 8 at 4 p.m. at Morioka Shimin Bunka Hall in Morioka, (03) 3944-9999.
(Jun. 17, 2006)
China's first lesbian hotline to open
Saturday June 17, 2006
China's first hotline for lesbians is set to open following the success of a service for gay men in a country where homosexuals still face stigma and discrimination, a local newspaper reported.
The hotlines, which operate in China's booming coastal cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou where social change outpaces the rest of China, are run by the Hong Kong-based Chi Heng Foundation, which oversees AIDS-related projects.
The new line will be staffed by lesbians, just as the volunteers for the existing one are all gay men, said one of the hotline's counselors, adding that the organization had had trouble recruiting enough qualified volunteers.
"To have female counselors at the center will make the women callers feel more secure," hotline staff member Shen Yiwu told the Shanghai Daily.
During the Mao era, homosexuals were persecuted, especially during the Cultural Revolution when prison terms and death sentences were meted out. Homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder in China until 2001.
EU culture clash over gay rights
Published: Fri, 16 Jun 2006 12:40:13 GMT+02
Author: Brian Johnson & Daisy Ayliffe
Latvia has defied the EU and refused to introduce a law banning discrimination at work on sexual orientation grounds.
Agreeing to introduce a law on employment discrimination is a condition for Latvia's entry to the EU in 2004.
But the country’s MPs refused to implement the legislation in full after a parliamentary debate where homosexuality was described as a sin.
The controversy in Latvia follows similar events in Poland where politicians have come under attack for allowing homophobia to spiral out of control.
On Thursday the European parliament passed a resolution that singled out Poland for a “rise in racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic intolerance”.
MEPs hit out at the nationalist League of Polish Families – where one party official said police should beat homosexuals with batons if they disturb public order with demonstrations.
“The EU should take appropriate measures to express its concern and notably to address the participation in the government of the League of Polish Families, whose leaders incite people to hatred and violence,” said the MEP resolution.
According to recent figures released by the Polish public opinion research centre, almost 90 per cent of Poles believe homosexuality is abnormal and half say it should not be tolerated.
Authorities in Warsaw have also banned an annual ‘gay pride’ march for two years running, but reluctantly allowed the event this year after protests from EU officials and human rights groups.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who was mayor of Warsaw at the time, called last year's planned march “sexually obscene” and has vowed that public displays of homosexuality “will not be allowed”.
Poland’s right wing League of Polish Families is closely associated with Radio Maryja, a conservative Catholic radio station that has been accused of airing homophobic and anti-Semitic messages.
League of Polish Families MEP Urszula Krupa said the accusations against Poland had been fabricated.
“Poland and the Poles are being slandered in the European parliament by a liberal ‘internationale’ which controls the world’s mass media,” she said, according to a Reuters report.
Polish prime minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz dismissed the MEP resolution, saying “I know Poland a bit better than the European parliament does, and I have not encountered such behaviour.”
And Marcinkiewicz added that MEPs should travel to Poland to view the situation for themselves.
“We will invite parliamentarians to visit Poland so they can seek out what they wrote,” he said according to Polish news agency PAP.
UK socialist MEP and president of the parliament’s gay and lesbian intergroup, Michael Cashman, called the resolution “a brilliant result that shows that the European parliament is standing up for our citizens’ rights”.
“It's an important political message that will serve as a clear warning to all member states that they must fight actively to stop racism, xenophobia and homophobia.”
Parliament’s resolution also singled out Belgium, France and Germany as countries that have seen an increase in racist and homophobic attacks.
Los Angeles Times
Let gay men donate blood
A 1980s-era ban no longer makes any practical sense.
June 15, 2006
SOON AFTER THE FIRST AIDS CASES appeared in the U.S. in the early 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the nation's blood supply, permanently banned practically all gay men from donating blood. At the time, the policy made sense. But a quarter of a century later, there is no longer any scientific reason to continue it.
In the 1980s, thousands of people a year unknowingly contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from blood transfusions. Gay men were the primary group with HIV-infected blood, and there was no adequate technology to screen for HIV, so the FDA banned gay men from donating if they had been sexually active since 1977.
Today, all donated blood is tested for nine infectious diseases, including hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis. With HIV, two tests are used: The first searches for antibodies produced after an infection; the second, which was added to the process six years ago, looks for the genetic material of the virus. With the two tests, the odds of an HIV-infected batch entering the blood supply are about 1 in 2 million. That means about a dozen people a year contract the virus from transfusions. This result is unfortunate but inevitable; transfusions always carry a certain amount of risk because screening isn't perfect. About 85 people contract hepatitis C through transfusions each year, for instance, and about 12 are infected with hepatitis B. Roughly 15,000 people die of hepatitis in the U.S. each year, about the same number as die of AIDS.
Moreover, although there is no way to know how many Americans die each year because of blood shortages, allowing gay men to donate would increase the blood supply and potentially save lives.
The nation's leading blood donation agencies, including the American Red Cross, asked the FDA this year to change its policy. Currently, only gay men, prostitutes, intravenous drug users and people who have a history of cancer or other blood-borne diseases are banned from donating for life. The blood banks have recommended that gay men who haven't had sex in a year be allowed to donate.
A temporary ban for gay men would still be needed. There's a window during which an individual can be infected with HIV and not test positive. And gay men in the U.S. have a much higher incidence of HIV infections than the rest of the population. So it's necessary to exclude those who have recently had sex, even with condoms. But the new tests can detect the virus within 11 days, on average, after infection. A ban of several weeks or months should be sufficient.
Another issue is that current guidelines fail to adequately take donor behavior into account. Questionnaires don't routinely ask about risky behavior, so even promiscuous heterosexuals can donate. Is blood from a monogamous, HIV-negative gay man more unsafe than blood from a heterosexual man who is sexually active with multiple partners?
The FDA must continue to monitor the nation's blood supply, and it may be necessary to bar donations from those who engage in risky behavior or who are part of a population that is at a much higher risk for a disease. But those decisions should be made according to science.
The New York Times
Music Review | Rufus Wainwright
Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Conjuring Judy Garland
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: June 15, 2006
They came to commune with a legend and to pay their respects to the singer channeling her.
Richard Termine for The New York Times
Rufus Wainwright, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter and opera maven, last night at Carnegie Hall re-creating song by song Judy Garland's 1961 concert, which became the most beloved of all pre-rock concert albums.
"They" would be the heavily gay, male, over-30 audience at the sold-out Carnegie Hall last night and tonight; the legend would be Judy Garland; and the gawky, flouncing pop shaman conjuring her would be Rufus Wainwright, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter and opera maven descended from folk-rock royalty.
It didn't matter that Mr. Wainwright sounds nothing like Garland or that his voice, an astringent drone with a quavering edge, uncertain intonation and slightly garbled diction, isn't half as good an instrument as Garland's.
The spirit was there. At the very least, his loving song-by-song recreation of "Judy at Carnegie Hall," Garland's brilliant 1961 concert that became the most beloved of all pre-rock concert albums, was a fabulous stunt. Not even Madonna, pop music's ultimate pop provocateur, has attempted anything so ambitious.
What unfolded onstage was a tour de force of politically empowering performance art in which a proudly gay male performer paid homage to the original and longest-running gay icon in the crowded pantheon of pop divas. Accompanying Mr. Wainwright was a 36-piece orchestra conducted by Stephen Oremus playing the original 1961 arrangements transposed several notes lower to suit his voice.
The concert was a two-family affair, with the Garland clan represented by Lorna Luft, who arrived onstage late in the 2½-hour marathon to put her seal of approval on the project by joining Mr. Wainwright in a duet of "After You've Gone."
Besides Rufus, the Wainwrights were represented by his sister Martha, who brought down the house with a whooping and swooping "Stormy Weather," and his mother, Kate McGarrigle, who accompanied him on piano during "Over the Rainbow," and in an encore of "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" that's not on the Garland album.
Because Garland's stamina onstage was legendary, Mr. Wainwright biggest challenge was to build and sustain the kind of electrical connection between performer and audience that in Garland's case approached a vampirish symbiosis.
If Mr. Wainwright doesn't begin to convey emotional extremes Garland embodied like a great method actress, he, like Garland, is a natural clown and showman. One of his many amusing anecdotes described his childhood identification with "The Wizard of Oz." On good days, he was Dorothy and on bad ones, the Wicked Witch of the West.
For those who came to worship, Mr. Wainwright could do no wrong. His courage to stand as a surrogate for every audience member who ever gazed into the mirror and fantasized slipping into Dorothy's ruby slippers spoke for itself.
Somewhere over the top
New York fell in love with Rufus Wainwright when he sang Judy Garland's hits, says Gaby Wood
Sunday June 18, 2006
For weeks, in certain parts of New York City, few things had been as ardently anticipated as Rufus Wainwright's two-night-only recreation of Judy Garland's famous Carnegie Hall concert of 1961. Forty-five years on, it had been announced, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter would reproduce, in exactly the same venue, song for song, with identical orchestral arrangements, his greatest idol's greatest moment. The idea was breathtaking in its chutzpah and panache: a homage and a provocation. He sparkled on the cover of Time Out New York. He was adored in the pages of the New York Times. In Marc Jacobs's menswear boutique in Greenwich Village virtually nothing was for sale except T-shirts advertising the show - bold rip-offs of the original Garland poster, shouting 'RUFUS RUFUS RUFUS'. Sam Mendes was making a movie of the whole thing.
At the first of the two sold-out concerts on Wednesday, fans were standing outside the normally serene Upper East Side venue offering up to $1,000 for a ticket. Were they joking? No one would skip this for the world. Every male couple in New York was there - and Sarah Jessica Parker.
The man emerged to roars of love. He sang the first two songs, took a break to remove the jacket of his cream-coloured dinner suit and said, breathily: 'Thank you so much. I'm going to speak now, because on the album Judy speaks here.' He proceeded to tell a story about his childhood, and how he always wanted to be Dorothy - when he wasn't too busy wanting to be the Wicked Witch. The audience was gripped. He was, he'd said, 'drawing upon a collective unconscious' - and posing, perhaps, as the hero of one of his own songs, 'Gay Messiah'.
There were many such knowing moments, when he'd sit on a stool and cross his legs, fling back his hair or dab sweat from his face, archly recognising the debt. But this was not a drag act. Wainwright was not so much impersonating Garland as inhabiting the songs. 'Do It Again', sung by Garland with such languorous vulnerability, was his in an instant - done in the same key, turned sweet, and bruised from time to time by Wainwright's signature half-growl; 'How Long Has This Been Going On' was a beautiful surprise, and had a way of making you feel it was always about to tumble into a minor key; 'The Man That Got Away', which one would have thought unmatchable, was spectacular.
When Judy Garland gave her Carnegie Hall performance, she had just survived a near-fatal bout of hepatitis (the resulting album, which won five Grammys, has never been out of print). This was after enduring struggles with drink, and eight years before her death from a drug overdose. She was witty that night and triumphant, but underneath lay the sound of damage. It has often been suggested that an affinity with Garland's suffering is what has led to her gay following, but Wainwright, in interviews, has had no truck with this notion. Though a survivor of his own family and drug-related battles, and a writer of wrenchingly personal songs, he has said he loves the Carnegie Hall concert for the music itself. And so it was on the night: he had no intention of falling apart - he was having far too much fun.
Yet over two-and-a-half hours, some of Wainwright's renditions lacked what Garland's wounds had once provided. At the end of the night, when he said he felt 'a real connection to Judy Garland', it was possible to wonder whether what he'd learned from her was more visible, in fact, in his own songs - whether there was already more of Judy Garland in the unvarnished Rufus Wainwright, and whether, instead of all that staging, he just had to tap his heels.
Justice and home affairs - 15-06-2006 - 13:24
MEPs adopt resolution on the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe
In adopting a joint resolution from the PES, ALDE, Greens and GUE/NGL political groups, by 301 in favour to 161 against with 102 abstentions, Parliament deplores the fact that the Council has been unable to adopt the 2001 Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia.
MEPs urgently call on the future Finnish Presidency of the Council to the restart the work on it and on the Council to reach an agreement on explicitly extending it to homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and other types of offences motivated by phobia or hatred based on ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion or other irrational grounds.
MEPs urge all the Member States to effectively implement the anti-discrimination directives and the Commission to bring before the Court of Justice those Member States which fail to do so, and to submit before mid-2007 new legislative tools incorporating all the grounds for discrimination set out in Article 13 of the EC Treaty and having the same scope as Directive 2000/43/EC.
The House strongly condemns all racist attacks, and expresses its solidarity with all victims of such attacks and their families, including:
– the premeditated murder of a black woman of Malian nationality and the Belgian child of whom she was the nurse, perpetrated in Antwerp on 12 May 2006 by a young Belgian right-wing extremist, this same person having a few moments earlier seriously wounded a woman of Turkish origin while trying to kill her;
– the murder of a 16-year-old boy in January 2006 and of a 17-year old boy in April 2006 in Brussels, expressing its indignation at some of the media coverage of these murders, which at times led to unfounded criminalisation of whole communities in the eyes of the general public;
– the rape, torture and assassination of Ilan Halimi in February 2006 in France by a gang of 22 persons of different origins, expressing its deep concern at the anti-Semitic dimension of this crime;
– the assassination of Chaïb Zehaf in March 2006 in France due to his ethnic origin;
– the brutal assault on a German citizen of Ethiopian origin, Kevin K., in the village of Poemmelte, Saxony-Anhalt, on 9 January 2006, in particular because of its racial motive;
– the horrific torture and murder of Gisberta, a transsexual living in the Portuguese city of Oporto, in February 2006, by a group of adolescent and pre-adolescent minors, urging the Portuguese authorities to do everything in their power to punish those responsible and fight the climate of impunity with respect to this and other hate crimes;
– the attack against Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, which took place in Warsaw, as well as the declarations by a leading member of the League of Polish Families inciting violence against GLBT people with a view to the march for tolerance and equality;
- the increase in the number of racist attacks, calls and chants by fans with neo-Nazi allegiances in football stadiums;
MEPs call on the EU representatives at the upcoming G8 Summit to raise the issue of human rights with Russia as a matter of urgency, in particular the right to demonstrate peacefully. The House also calls on the institutions of the European Union, the Member States and all European democratic political parties to condemn all acts of intolerance and of incitement to racial hatred, as well as all acts of harassment or racist violence.
The House calls on the Member States to give proper attention to the fight against racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia both in their relations with each other and in their bilateral relations with third countries. MEPs will call on the Commission to continue developing an anti-discrimination policy alongside its emerging policy on integration.
Parliament stresses the need to support anti-racist and anti-xenophobic initiatives in relation to the current World Cup in Germany, and asks authorities to closely monitor, prosecute and condemn those responsible for racist acts.
Debate on Wednesday, 14 June 2006
The European Parliament debated the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe. Many MEPs pointed to the increase of violence in some Member States and pointed to the joint resolution to be adopted on Thursday 15 June 2006.
Hans WINKLER, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs said that the Presidency gave particular importance to the combating of discrimination. The entire security of the EU was threatened and undermined by such violence and discrimination and it needed to be addressed urgently.
He recalled that since the Amsterdam Treaty entered into force, the EU had adopted anti discrimination/ equal opportunities legislation which was passed in 2000. Discrimination on the grounds of gender, belief age and ability was forbidden. Mr Winkler drew attention to the work of the European Agency monitoring xenophobia and racism, but said it was important that the EU create a new agency on fundamental rights which he said, citizens both want and need. Mr Winkler that national governments were taking measures but where education was insufficient, national criminal law should apply.
Leadership, he said, was required in this area and pointed to the work carried out under the Austrian Presidency including the marking of the 40th anniversary on the anti-discrimination day of 25 March. The battle, he said, had not yet been won, but the Presidency to combating such discrimination and violence.
Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Commissioner Vladimir SPIDLA told MEPs that the Commission condemns all forms of racism and xenophobia and will continue to combat them with every tool at its disposal. "The Commission deeply deplores that Member States have still not adopted 2001 framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia. Its objective is to stamp out all forms of racism including on religious grounds. The Commission urges the Council to adopt it without watering down." The Commission was also supporting the work of the EU Monitoring Centre and initiatives such the Year of Equal Opportunities planned for 2007.
He said the Commission roundly condemns all forms of homophobia, which he said flew in the face of the principles on which Europe was built. He pointed out that the Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits any discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. In addition to legislative measures, he said, must be accompanied by other measures to stamp out discrimination and denigrating behaviour. "We are firmly convinced that the EU must be a model of the fight against racism, xenophobia and homophobia," he concluded.
Political Group speakers
Speaking for the EPP-ED group, Patrick GAUBERT (FR) said "The EU is founded on a community based on indivisible and universal rights of human dignity, freedom and solidarity. We see on daily basis that struggle against intolerance is far from over. It is upsetting to have to recall that racism is unacceptable in our societies. As Members of Parliament we must firm and roundly condemn it." He said that governments should adopt the framework decision on racism and xenophobia. He regretted, however, that Parliament was missing an opportunity to speak with one voice on these issues. This was not a left or right wing struggle, he said, adding that he understood why his group had not signed the joint resolution.
Socialist group leader Martin SCHULZ (DE) said that when he joined the European Parliament twelve years ago, he would not have thought it possible that such a debate would be needed again. "Racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and hatred of minorities is horrifying. It should set alarm bells ringing." All democratic political forces of left and right had joined to created the EU to resolve the conflicts of 20th century, and to abandon movements based on hatred of minorities and those who did not conform. "The idea was to form a community based on fundamental rights for all regardless of belief, nationality, skin colour, origin and how they want to live... we want to organise a society where all have their place."
People riding roughshod over minorities for political benefit had happened before, he said, and this was not just in the new Member States or in one country: "This is not criticism of any nations, but against the intellectual bankruptcy of people promoting such ideas. They don't belong in any society, and certainly not in this Parliament."
For the ALDE group, Sophia IN 'T VELD (NL)said that it was "unfortunate" that it was still necessary to debate this issue. People were still being killed just because of the colour of their skin or their sexual orientation which she described as "barbarian". She welcomed the recent equality marches including the one in Warsaw which she took part in. Subsidiarity was an excuse for national governments not to act and this issue should be discussed at EU level. The EU should aim to be "the world champion" in the defence of fundamental rights.
Jean LAMBERT(Greens/EFA, UK) welcomed the strong statements and expressed her wish for other politicians to be as clear and forthright. She said that "it is clear that no European Union Member State is free from this hatred". "We have to be clear that we won't tolerate this in our Member States", she added. Ms Lambert was disappointed that it took several deaths, even in her own country, for awareness to be raised. A main problem is the media, she concluded.
Vittorio AGNOLETTO (GUE/NGL, IT) described this resolution's presence as a "democratic emergency". He said that this behaviour was incompatible with the European Union, specifying that his party will be asking for sanctions if homophobic and racist actions continue. He closed by saying that the Austrian Presidency has not done as much as it could have done as it has been hindered by the presence of Haider's neo-fascist party in the presidency.
Wojciech ROSZKOWSKI (UEN, PL) stated that justice requires a level-headed approach and one needs to be very careful when generalising about certain actions. He continued that there were too many contradictions within the resolution as well as equalisation on racism and homophobia with ideological differences. He attacked the Netherlands with regards to their "paedophilic party" and said that the other countries ought to look at their own countries before harassing others.
Bogdan PĘK (IND/DEM, PL) stated that this was very significant day for the European Parliament as it could set a new trend in the legislative fight against racism and for minorities. But he believed that his debate was turning into another fight between the political left and the political right. He said that it was unacceptable for Poland to have to be grotesquely slandered by the Left.
Attacking the speaker of the PES directly, Maciej Marian GIERTYCH (NI, PL) said that it would be useful for various MEPs to check their facts before presenting them in the debate. He continued that the former Communists gave the homosexual community protecting. However, the present government is a government of law and order, and order includes moral order.
British and Irish speakers
Bairbre DE BRÚN (GUE/NGL, UK) said that in her constituency in the North of Ireland, there had been an increase in sectarian and homophobic violence including the murder of a 15 year old boy Michael McIlveen. She called on the Council to adopt the 2001 anti-discrimination framework directives.
Eoin RYAN (UEN, IE) highlighted the increase in racism during football matches in many countries including monkey chanting, neo-fascist symbols and the throwing of banana skins. He welcomed the fact that the FIFA would crackdown on this increase and said the World Cup in Germany was a key opportunity not to be missed with an estimated global accumulative audience of 20 billion spectators.
Michael CASHMAN (PES, UK) said he was saddened by the comments of Polish MEPs from the League of Polish Families and the Law and Justice Party. Religion or family values, he said, represented no excuse for the promotion of hatred, discrimination and evil. "What value is there in diminishing the lives of ordinary human beings? There is none," he said. Having taken part in the Gay Pride march in Warsaw, he said that the decent reception it had received from ordinary people there had shown that the two parties he mentioned did not represent the decent, ordinary people of Poland.
Sarah LUDFORD (ALDE, UK) said citizens must be puzzled that the EU had good laws protecting people from discrimination as consumers and employees, but not as people. "Why is there a lack of EU action on hate crimes, when we can agree on pollution crimes?" she asked. She hoped to avoid high blown rhetoric about a union of values, which no action was taken. She also said it was disgraceful for Mr Roszkowski to refer to paedophilia in the context of homosexuality - there was no evidence, she said, that paedophilia was more prevalent among homosexuals than heterosexuals.
Claude MORAES (PES, UK) said being subject to racial or homophobic violence was something that you never forgot. "When my parents arrived in Europe in the 1960s we suffered from it and we have never forgotten." He called for the Council to take action by adopting the framework decision. "Racist attacks can be solved, penalties can be increased. We can send a political signal of leadership. The scar of discrimination is greater today than it was in the 1960s."
Response to the debate
In his response to the debate, Hans WINKLER, in his response to the debate for the Presidency said that he was convinced that it was necessary for the EU to speak with one voice on this matter and not to reproach each other for any shortcomings. He stressed the importance of the media, but recognised that it was impossible to censor the media but rather it was necessary for the media to exercise some self regulation or control.
Commissioner SPIDLA concluded the debate by saying that the notion of tolerance and equality had always been part and parcel of the European Union. He quoted the preface to a Papal Bull from the early 18th century, which noted that the sun shines in the same way over everyone - something that had sometimes been overlooked in periods of intolerance. "When you look at the inequalities which exist, when political action is taken to prevent demonstrations, with some people trading on intolerance as their basic policy plank, you see a loss of the fundamental values of the European project, " he said. He said the debate had shown a firm will in Parliament to back the concepts of equal opportunities and tolerance, while rejecting racism, xenophobia and homophobia.
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Homophobia in Europe
European Parliament's Resolution on Racism and Homophobia is Welcome, Timely and Needed
On 15 June 2006, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the increase of racist and homophobic violence in Europe. ILGA-Europe welcomes this resolution and joins the European Parliament's call to the Finnish presidency to intensify work on the 2001 Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia and to explicitly extend it to homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and other types of offences motivated by phobia or hatred based on ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion or other irrational grounds.
The last time the European Parliament debated homophobia in Europe was just at the beginning of this year. Not much has changed since; in fact, we are witnessing even greater expressions and manifestations of homophobia in many countries. Polish leaders continued to make false and humiliating accusations against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; the Polish Education Minister dismissed an official for publishing a guide on human rights that the Minister saw as the guide too gay friendly; and just yesterday the Latvian Parliament in a demonstratively provocative manner ignored the authority and the law of the European Union by rejecting a legislative proposal to include sexual orientation in the anti-discrimination provision of the Labour law as required by the EU Employment Equality Directive.
Riccardo Gottardi, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board, said: "We all heartedly welcome this resolution and the determination of the European Parliament to address homophobia and other forms of prejudice and discrimination in the European Union."
There is a significant number of statements, resolutions and declarations by various EU institutions and officials. We believe it is now the time to take very concrete and serious actions to make it clear to everyone in the European Union that homophobia and other forms of discriminations are not accepted and will be dealt with in the most serious manner.
We urge Finland who takes up the EU Presidency on 1 July 2006 to actively engage in work on the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia to incorporate the EP's recommendations. We also encourage the European Commission to take immediate legal actions against those member states which deliberately resist implementation of the EU requirements of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.