TV & Radio
Working Women Set Their Sights Higher
TOKYO, May 25 (IPS) - When Manami Sato's mother started work at a large trading company almost three decades ago, she was hired as one of several female assistants, a job that included serving tea and copying files for male managers and was the norm those days
But Sato, 26, who graduated from Aoyama University, a prestigious private institution, and then spent two years in the United States furthering her studies in international business, is not ready to follow in her mother's footsteps.
‘'I have just been promoted to assistant manager in my company,'' says Sato who works for an international finance company she prefers not to name. ‘'I intend to keep working hard in this company till I am ready to move on to something bigger."
Sato, say labour experts, represents the new generation of well-educated Japanese working women who are ambitious, career oriented and have their sights set higher than their mothers did in a male-dominated job market.
‘'The changes we note today in female employment patterns represent important developments in Japan that have occurred within a short time span. It is not an exaggeration to say Japanese women are hardworking and ambitious,'' said Makoto Hosoda, director at ‘Hello Work', a government-supported recruitment office in Tokyo.
Buoyed by Japan's strengthening economy the employment rate for university graduates was a record high -- 96.6 percent for men and 96 percent for women, forming a total of 357,000 new employees, according to the health, welfare and labour ministry.
‘'The employment gender gap in Japan has narrowed significantly for university graduates and will stay that way. Today we also see men and women ready to have long-term careers and prefer to work in companies that can give them these opportunities,'' said Takashi Nagata, an expert at the Daiwa Research Institute.
According to Nagata, who has to his credit a report on newly graduated females, more women are moving out from the clerical sector, as was the tradition, and taking on more challenging jobs in banking, information technology and medicine.
Moreover, they work long hours along with their male compatriots and spend their spare time improving career skills to gain chances at promotion.
New data point to an improving situation for Japanese female workers. For example, labour ministry figures show that women, who till three years comprised a dismal 3 to 4 percent of the senior management positions, now hold between 4 to 10 percent.
On he salary front too there are better signs. Ministry reports indicate the salary-gender gap is closing -- from the earlier 62.8 percent to 66 percent in 2006. This is something of a revolution in Japan where stark wage and promotion differences were once readily accepted.
Says Makiko Ogata at Recruit Company, a leading employment agency: ‘'These days, as the labour market ages, companies do not differentiate between genders so much. Women are even more sought after by managements than before.''
Ogata pointed to several new factors such as the ‘greying population' that is expected to lead to a steep decline in the national labour force. Referred to in Japan as the Big Bang the phenomenon, by 2025, is expected to show up 600 million fewer employees than in 1998.
Ogata also indicated a new report by United Nations Economic nad Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, released this month, showed how gender discrimination in the Asia-Pacific region can result in some 80 billion US dollars worth of economic losses.
‘'Domestic and international trends that influence Japan's diversifying labour market, have contributed to more gender equality here,'' she told IPS.
But experts also point to harsher working environments for women that are accompanying the change.
Nagata's report showed that Japanese women continue to bear the brunt of family responsibilities which restrict their chances of taking up challenging jobs that demand travel or inconvenient work schedules.
‘'Japanese companies have still not adjusted adequately to accept career-oriented women such as by establishing flexible schedules for them or enacting regulations that put pressure on men to take paternity leave,'' he explained to IPS. (END/2007)
Cambridge City Council
Cllr Jenny Bailey appointed Mayor
Cllr Jenny Bailey has been appointed Mayor of the City of Cambridge at Cambridge City Council’s annual meeting on Thursday 24 May.
Jenny has served continuously on the Council since 2002 when she was elected to represent East Chesterton ward. She was appointed Executive Councillor for Planning and Transportation in 2004, a post she held until May 2006 when she became Deputy Mayor.
As Executive Councillor she successfully led the Council’s new parking enforcement role. She also supported the Mayor at civic ceremonial events as Deputy Mayor and as a Ceremonial Bailiff.
Jenny has a strong interest in environmental issues, promoting cycling, waste management and recycling.
She has spent some time on the City Council’s Planning Committee and her interest in planning has involved representing the views of residents in talks with the county council and neighbouring district councils on proposals for the growth of Cambridge.
She has also been a school governor for Chesterton Community College.
Her career background is in radio engineering and she worked for Pye Telecom which later became part of Philips. She has subsequently worked as a telecommunications engineer for a number of companies many of which have been based in Cambridge.
Jenny has chosen two charities to benefit from the fundraising work she will carry out as part of her mayoral duties over the coming year.
Her first charity is Press Relief, an organisation set up by Cambridgeshire Newspapers Ltd, which raises money for facilities that aim to improve the education, health and social welfare of disadvantaged people across the county.
Jenny’s second charity is the Cambridge Museum of Technology which is based on Cheddar’s Lane, Cambridge.
She will be proposed as Mayor at the annual meeting by her fellow ward councillor, Cllr Marian Holness. The nomination will be seconded by Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Labour Group.
Jenny said: “I entered local politics because I believe in public service and because I wanted to make a contribution to the wonderful city we live in. I am honoured that my fellow councillors have now chosen me to be Mayor.
“I want my mayoral year to be about celebrating the unsung heroes of our city. There are many of them.
“They are individuals and organisations that quietly work away making a real difference to people’s lives without expecting any reward or publicity in return.
“They deserve recognition and thanks for their work and I see it as a major part of my job as Mayor to make sure they know how grateful we are.
“There are many also many specific causes I want to highlight in the next twelve months. These include raising the profile of disability issues, supporting events for and on behalf of migraine sufferers and attending meetings of minority religious groups.”
She added: “Over the coming year I’ll be raising funds for two local charities which do a great deal of excellent work.
“Press Relief works to help people in some of the more disadvantaged parts of the county by providing grants for new projects and facilities. I hope to raise enough money over the next year to give their work a well-deserved boost.
“And as a radio engineer I have always thought the Museum of Technology to be one of the treasures of the city. It is run by volunteers who are dedicated to showing how science and technology has helped to shape the unique heritage of our city.
“It offers a wonderful insight into how our city has developed making it a fascinating place for visitors, school children and residents to learn more about Cambridge.”
Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “I am looking forward to supporting Jenny as she takes the leading role in Cambridge’s civic life for the coming year.
“Jenny has fulfilled the role of Deputy Mayor in the past year with great distinction and we already know that she will make a really great Mayor.”
Cambridge's sex-change mayor goes public
By David Sapsted
Last Updated: 11:12am BST 24/05/2007
The residents of an historic university city awoke yesterday to discover that not only had their new lady mayor been born a man, but that their lady mayoress had been, too.
Miss Bailey: 'More things define me than being transgender'
The world's first sex change couple to hold such offices will take over their roles in Cambridge as the city prepares to celebrate 800 years since the appointment of having a mayor.
Mayor-elect Jenny Bailey, a Lib Dem councillor and father of two, and her business and civil partner, Jennifer Liddle, a former city councillor, met while having hormone therapy about 15 years ago as they underwent sex change operations.
Miss Bailey, 45, was forced to go public about her personal life after being approached about it by a reporter on a local newspaper.
"So many more things define me than being transgender - a medical condition I had 15 years ago and which I have now recovered from," she said.
"I'm proud that I managed to get through something which was quite difficult and managed to come out of it a better person. I certainly do not want it to eclipse being mayor.
"If it damages the Cambridge mayoralty I will be so upset. I'm so proud of Cambridge. It's an honour to be mayor."
Miss Liddle, 49, said that a number of people working at the council knew Miss Bailey when she was married man.
"It has been described as the worst kept secret in Cambridge," she said.
The couple live together and run a software company. Miss Bailey, who has two sons aged 18 and 20 - one of whom lives with her - remains on good terms with her ex-wife, who said yesterday that she was "incredibly proud" of her former husband.
"I am incredibly proud of Jenny and the achievements she has made over the last few years," she added.
"She is a totally selfless person who wants to help others and make a positive impact on our community.
"I think she will make an excellent mayor and has major contributions to make. I hope this will be the focus which people concentrate on.
"I feel sad that the emphasis seems to be about the pathetic 'scandal' involved in her past. She is going to be an excellent mayor and this should be the focus."
Miss Bailey said that, as far as she and Miss Liddle were concerned, their sexuality had never been a secret. “The nature of the Cambridge software industry is that I can't go into a company and not meet one of those 2,500 people who worked at Philips (where she was employed when she was a man).
"When I first joined the Liberal Democrats, there was a vetting process and they asked: 'Is there anything in your past that is going to be difficult?' I said I was transgender and they said: 'No, is there anything that is going to be difficult?'."
The Local Government Association confirmed that Miss Bailey was the first transgender mayor known to take office in the country and the news received a mixed reaction on the streets of Cambridge.
"I think it's disgusting," said one woman shopper, who declined to be named.
"For a mayor and mayoress...no way."
Pensioner Ernest Lane added: "What a mess. It doesn't shock me these days but I don't like it at all. It shouldn't be made public, though, like it has been."
However, carpenter Todd Growns said: "It's a bit weird but does it make any difference? As long as they are doing a good job, it's fine."
トランスジェンダーの市長さん「夫妻」＠ケンブリッジ (today's news from uk+)
[News] トランスジェンダー市長誕生に対するメディアの論調～英ケンブリッジ(HODGE'S PARROT)
First gay candidate runs in Japan
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Friday May 25, 2007
Kanako Otsuji, Japan's first openly gay politician, is to run in July's national elections in what she says is a challenge to official ignorance of the country's "hidden" minority groups.
Officials yesterday confirmed that the Democratic party, Japan's largest opposition party, had endorsed Ms Otsuji, 32, to run in the July 22 election for the upper house of parliament.
In 2003 Ms Otsuji, running as an independent, became the youngest ever candidate to win a seat on the Osaka prefectural assembly at the age of 28, one of only seven women on the 110-seat legislature.
She successfully campaigned to change a local law to allow same-sex couples to rent public housing in Osaka, which had previously been available only to married couples. Same-sex unions are not recognised by Japanese law.
Midway through her four-year term Ms Otsuji decided to go public about her sexual orientation with the publication of her autobiography, Coming Out: A Journey to Find Myself. Though she did not attempt to hide her sexual orientation during the Osaka election campaign, her aides persuaded her not to mention it for fear that it would drive away voters.
Ms Otsuji said prime minister Shinzo Abe's vision of a "Beautiful Japan" ignored the diversity of Japanese society. "There is a tendency to put forward one set of values," she said. "But the reality is becoming more diverse. Japanese society is not engaging with the wide range of people living in diverse ways, in terms of nationality, race, sex, age and disabilities."
Japan Opposition Party Fields Lesbian Candidate
Japan's main opposition party is fielding an openly lesbian candidate for July's upper house elections.
Japan's main opposition party is fielding an openly lesbian candidate for July's upper house elections, in an unprecedented move for the country's conservative political world.
The Democratic Party has endorsed 32-year-old Kanako Otsuji, a former local assemblywoman and outspoken campaigner for gay and other minority rights, as a candidate for the upcoming national poll, an official at her office said on Thursday.
"This is the first time a national political party has officially fielded an openly gay person," the official said.
Otsuji came out midway through her four years as a member of the local assembly in the western city of Osaka, writing a book about her experience and taking part in gay and lesbian rallies.
Her candidacy comes as Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party pushes a traditional values agenda under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who often speaks of his wish to create a "Beautiful Japan."
"I am very grateful to the Democratic Party for giving me this chance," Otsuji said in a message on her Web site.
"In today's society, I think there is a tendency to put forward one set of values and make it seem as though that is the only beautiful or right way," she said. "But the reality is becoming more diverse. Japanese society is not engaging with the wide range of people living in diverse ways, in terms of nationality, race, sex, age and disabilities."
ABC Radio Australia
Radio Australia - News - Japan's Democratic Party fields Lesbian candidate
Last Updated 24/05/2007, 21:38:09
Japan's main opposition party is fielding an openly lesbian candidate for July's upper house elections, in an unprecedented move for the country's conservative political world.
The Democratic Party has endorsed 32-year-old Kanako Otsuji, a former local assemblywoman and outspoken campaigner for gay and other minority rights.
An official at her office says it's the first time a national political party has officially fielded an openly gay person.
Ms Otsuji came out midway through her four years as a member of the local assembly in the western city of Osaka, writing a book about her experience and taking part in gay and lesbian rallies.
"I am very grateful to the Democratic Party for giving me this chance," Ms Otsuji said in a message on her Web site.
"In today's society, I think there is a tendency to put forward one set of values and make it seem as though that is the only beautiful or right way.
"But the reality is becoming more diverse.
"Japanese society is not engaging with the wide range of people living in diverse ways, in terms of nationality, race, sex, age and disabilities."
Lesbian candidate a first for Japan
23rd May 2007 12:49
Japan’s second largest political party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), announced that Kanako Otsuji, the first openly lesbian politician in Japan, will be one of the party’s official candidates for this summer’s National Diet (parliament) election.
Ms Otsuji, 32, was elected as an Osaka Assembly Member in April 2003.
In August 2005, she came out of the closet in her book Coming Out and marched in the Tokyo Pride Parade (formerly known as Tokyo Lesbian & Gay Parade) along with about 2,500 people.
In her book, Ms Otsuji said:
"I believe coming out (as a lesbian) is the best thing that I can do for society to encourage people.
"I want to establish a society where everybody can be who they really are."
In May 2006 she worked with the organisers of Tokyo Pride, the Rainbow March In Sapporo and GayJapanNews for Act Against Homophobia.
The following month, she visited Washington D.C. and San Francisco through the International Visitor Leadership Programme operated by the US State Department.
Ms Otsuji has a good record of fighting for gay rights in Japan.
The major political parties in the country, including the DPJ, are reluctant to directly support gay rights, preferring instead to concentrate on wider discrimination issues.
Homosexual male sexual conduct is not illegal, but some regions (prefectures) have an unequal age of consent. The age for heterosexual consent is 13.
In October 2005, Osaka Prefecture started the House Sharing System which allows gay couples and other forms of couples that are not legally recognised as family to live in residences managed and operated by Osaka Housing Supply Corporation.
In 2005 and early 2007, Ms Otsuji submitted two statements about people with Gender Identity Disorder in cooperation with the New Komeito Party and other groups.
These statements were adopted by the Osaka Assembly.
Ms Otsuji didn't run in April’s local election because she had already decided to run for the upcoming national election.
In the local election, one gay and three transgender candidates campaigned, but only one transgender candidate, Aya Kamikawa, was re-elected to her second term.
Ms Otsuji says she thinks that she has to bring LGBT people’s voices to the National Diet and has made it her goal to seek a seat for that end.
DPJ leaders said they decided to endorse Ms Otsuji as an official party candidate to "bring society’s attention to the discriminated people."
If she wins, she’ll be the first openly LGBT national politician ever in Japan.
© GayJapanNews All Rights Reserved
Japan's lesbian lawmaker aims to move up
Thursday, May 24, 2007 / 02:14 PM
SUMMARY: Kanako Otsuji, 32, formerly of Osaka's prefectural assembly, says her bid for national office aims to get Japan to acknowledge its diversity.
Kanako Otsuji, Japan's first openly gay politician, announced her decision to run in July's national elections as a challenge to government ignorance.
Officials confirmed that Otsuji, 32, will run on the Democratic Party ticket for the upper house of parliament. The election will be held July 22.
In 2003, at the age of 28, Otsuji became the youngest politician to hold a seat on the Osaka prefectural assembly. She was one of only seven women on the 110-seat body. On her Web site, she boasts of a policy change to get public housing in Osaka, Japan's second-largest city, to rent to same-sex couples.
Halfway through her four-year term, Otsuji came out with the publication of her autobiography, "Coming Out: A Journey to Find Myself."
Although she did not purposefully hide her sexual orientation during the election campaign, her aides persuaded her not to mention it to prevent controversy. Her decision to come out was met with support from voters, but Otsuji has faced ignorance and homophobia among fellow lawmakers.
In a message on her Web site, Otsuji said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has failed to address sexual diversity within Japan.
"I think there is a tendency to put forward one set of values and make it seem as though that is the only beautiful or right way," Otsuji told London's Guardian newspaper.
"But the reality is becoming more diverse. Japanese society is not engaging with the wide range of people living in diverse ways, in terms of nationality, race, sex, age and disabilities," she said. (The Advocate)
Japan Has Record New HIV/AIDS Cases as Men Practice Unsafe Sex
By Kanoko Matsuyama
May 22 (Bloomberg) -- New HIV/AIDS cases in Japan reached 1,358 last year, the biggest annual increase in more than two decades, as men fail to heed warnings over the dangers of unprotected sex.
Last year, 952 people were diagnosed with HIV, the virus that cases AIDS, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare told reporters in Tokyo. An additional 406 patients developed AIDS, with men representing more than four of every five cases, the ministry said.
``Sexual contact among males continues to be the main reason for the increase'' in cases, said Aikichi Iwamoto, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Tokyo, who led the research.
Japan had 12,394 HIV/AIDS cases as at Dec. 31 since it began collecting data on the disease in 1985, the health ministry said. Of those, 4,050 were diagnosed with AIDS, the ministry said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Kanoko Matsuyama in Tokyo at at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: May 22, 2007 06:39 EDT
Campaigners march for gay rights in Poland
Sat May 19, 3:54 PM ET
Gay rights campaigners from Poland and across Europe marched in Warsaw Saturday in an annual rally galvanised by what activists say is rampant public and official homophobia in this overwhelmingly Catholic country.
Around 4,000 people turned out for the Equality Parade, police said.
Many of the participants carried the rainbow flag, the symbol of homosexual rights, and marched under the slogan "Love Thy Neighbour" -- the use of the biblical commandant an apparent swipe at ultra-Catholic protesters.
There was little sign of the flamboyant dress, including drag, which is a feature of Gay Pride events in other European Union countries where the lot of homosexuals is seen as better than in Poland.
The Warsaw march, which drew only a few score demonstrators when it began in 2001, has a traditionally political edge due to official bans and sometimes violent counter-demonstrations.
Only several dozen such protesters were present Saturday, most of them members of a far-right youth group.
"Five members of the group were arrested," Warsaw police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski told AFP.
Poland's homosexual community has in the past complained of living in a "climate of fear."
Even high-ranking Polish politicians make openly homophobic statements.
"Homophobia is not the exclusive monopoly of Poland. It exists everywhere," said Sophia in't Veld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament who was attending the march in a show of solidarity.
"But the difference is that here there are prominent government politicians who are creating a climate of hatred and fear against homosexuals," she said, singling out Roman Giertych, of the far-right League of Polish Families (LPR).
Giertych, who is education minister and a deputy premier in the country's coalition government, launched a drive this week to ban classroom discussion of homosexuality.
He said the move was vital to protect marriage and the family.
His draft law would require school head teachers to stop "homosexual propaganda" in the same way as they have a duty to tackle classroom violence, hatred and discrimination, or pornography.
The plans have come under fire from the EU's equal opportunities commissioner, who has said Poland would be in breach of European law if it goes ahead.
The Council of Europe also criticised Giertych last year over the sacking of education official Miroslaw Sielatycki allegedly because he had overseen publication of a Polish-language version of a Council of Europe manual on human rights education, which contained a section on homosexuality and homophobia.
Besides in't Veld, around two dozen politicians from other EU countries joined the Warsaw march, organisers said.
Among them were Sweden's European Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmstroem, German Green Party chief Claudia Roth, and her party colleague Volker Beck, who is a leading gay activist.
"To be here today with so many people, and so much strong support from all over Europe, makes clear that progress is possible and that you should not give up," Roth told reporters.
Earlier this month, an opinion poll found that 53 percent of Poles considered homosexuality a sin and 58 percent that gay and lesbians should be denied the right to demonstrate.
The 2004 and 2005 marches were banned by Warsaw's then mayor, Lech Kaczynski, a conservative Catholic who was sworn in as president of Poland in December 2005.
In 2005, Kaczynski said that spreading "homosexual propaganda" fell outside rules protecting freedom of assembly.
Several thousand people nonetheless went ahead and marched in 2005, and earlier this month Poland was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights over that year's ban.
The authorities allowed the 2006 march to go ahead, despite repeated calls for a ban from the LPR -- which last year joined Poland's coalition government, along with Kaczynski's Law and Justice (PiS) party.
PiS lost control of Warsaw city hall in municipal elections last November to a liberal, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who organisers said had been "very cooperative."
Beck said his attention was already turning further east to Russia, where a string of Gay Pride events have been banned.
"We should see it as a global struggle. If the civil rights of any minority are in danger, any European democrat has to speak out," he said.
Thousands join Polish gay march
POSTED: 1436 GMT (2236 HKT), May 19, 2007
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Thousands of people marched Saturday in the capital's annual gay-rights parade, days after the education minister called for a ban on the "propagation of homosexuality" in Poland's schools.
About 5,000 demonstrators marched from parliament through downtown, amid a heavy police presence, led by a truck festooned with red, blue, green and purple balloons and blasting strains of loud music.
Some marchers carried placards reading "Stop homophobia," while others toted rainbow flags, a symbol of the gay community.
The Equality Parade comes as an increasingly vocal gay rights movement faces off against conservative leaders who have openly denounced homosexuality.
Homosexuality largely remains a taboo in predominantly Catholic Poland and elsewhere in eastern Europe, and activists are up against a widespread belief that it is a perversion.
In past years, gay rights rallies in Warsaw and the western city of Poznan resulted in violent clashes but no incidents were reported Saturday.
On Wednesday, Education Minister Roman Giertych called for a ban on the "propagation of homosexuality" in the country's schools, a plan that he argues would protect traditional family values.
Giertych -- who leads the ultraconservative League of Polish Families, a junior partner in Poland's governing coalition -- insisted his proposals "do not discriminate against anyone."
"It is only to protect youth from the propagation of views that threaten marriage, threaten family, and threaten the duties of school, which are to prepare one to fulfill family duties and the duties of a citizen," he said.
The minister unveiled his proposal less than a month after the European Parliament passed a resolution sharply criticizing senior Polish officials for declarations "inciting discrimination and hatred based on sexual orientation."
Marcher Witold Serafin, 30, argued that "there is no equality" for gays in Poland, but added that discrimination is slowly tapering off, thanks to the attention politicians like Giertych draw to the issue.
"The more politicians fight against homosexuality, the more regular people seem to accept it," Serafin said.
The far-right All-Polish Youth, the official youth-wing of the League of Polish Families until late last year, held a small counter demonstration nearby with placards reading "Homo go home."
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's socially conservative government has made defending traditional Roman Catholic values a cornerstone of its platform.
Kaczynski's brother, President Lech Kaczynski, refused to grant parade permits for gay rights marches while he served as mayor of Warsaw.
DW staff / AFP (ncy) | www.dw-world.de | © Deutsche Welle.
Gay Activists Poised for Warsaw Rights Rally
Gay activists rally for rights in Warsaw
Gay rights campaigners from Poland and across Europe gathered Saturday for their annual rally which has been galvanized by what activists say is rampant public and official homophobia.
A string of politicians from other European Union countries where the lot of gays and lesbians is better than in Poland were expected to join the march, organizers said.
Among them were Sweden's European Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmstroem, German Green Party chief Claudia Roth, plus her party colleague Volker Beck and Spanish Socialist lawmaker Pedro Zerolo, both leading gay activists.
"We are also expecting plenty of homosexuals from abroad, especially from Germany, the Netherlands and France," Robert Biedron, president of the Campaign Against Homophobia, told AFP ahead of Saturday afternoon's parade.
Bildunterschrift: Claudia Roth took part in the parade last year, too
The Equality March, which drew only a few score demonstrators when it began in 2001, now attracts several thousand people who in recent years have faced official bans and violent protests by far-right groups.
"Climate of fear"
Poland's homosexual community has in the past said it lives in a "climate of fear."
Even high-ranking Polish politicians make openly homophobic statements.
Earlier this month, an opinion poll found that 53 percent of Poles considered homosexuality a sin, and 58 percent believed gays and lesbians should be denied the right to demonstrate.
The 2004 and 2005 marches were banned by Warsaw's then mayor, Lech Kaczynski, a conservative Catholic who was sworn in as president of Poland in December 2005. In 2005, Kaczynski said that spreading "homosexual propaganda" did not fall under rules protecting freedom of assembly.
Several thousand people nonetheless marched in 2005, and earlier this month, Poland was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights over that year's ban.
Power changed hands
The authorities nonetheless allowed the 2006 march to go ahead, despite repeated calls for a ban from the Catholic nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR) -- since last year a member of Poland's three-party coalition government, along with Kaczynski's Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Poland was rebuked by the European Court of Human Rights for the 2005 ban
PiS lost control of Warsaw city hall in municipal elections last November, and Biedron said the new mayor, liberal Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, had been "very cooperative."
Poland's policy was under the spotlight this week when the LPR's Roman Giertych, who is education minister and a deputy premier, launched a drive to ban classroom discussion of homosexuality. He said the move was vital to protect marriage and the family.
His draft law would require school head teachers to stop "homosexual propaganda" in the same way as they have a duty to tackle classroom violence, hatred and discrimination, or pornography.
The plans have come under fire from the EU's equal opportunities commissioner.
DW staff / AFP (ncy)
Texts adopted by Parliament
Thursday, 26 April 2007 - Strasbourg Provisional edition
Homophobia in Europe P6_TA-PROV(2007)0167 B6-0167, 0168, 0170 and 0171/2007
European Parliament resolution of 26 April 2007 on homophobia in Europe
The European Parliament ,
– having regard to international instruments guaranteeing human rights and fundamental freedoms and prohibiting discrimination, notably the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR),
– having regard to Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 13 of the EC Treaty, which commit the EU and the Community, respectively, as well as the Member States, to upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms and which provide means at European level to fight discrimination and human rights violations,
– having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Article 21 thereof, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation,
– having regard to EC activities to fight homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation, in particular Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(1) and Decision No 771/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 establishing the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All (2007) - towards a just society(2) ,
– having regard to its previous resolutions on homophobia, protection of minorities and anti-discrimination policies, and notably to those of 18 January 2006 on homophobia in Europe(3) and of 15 June 2006 on the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe(4) ,
– having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas Parliament has monitored a proliferation of hate speech targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in a number of European countries,
B. whereas statements and actions by political and religious leaders have a major impact on public opinion, so that they have an important responsibility in contributing positively to a climate of tolerance and equality,
C. whereas this resolution, like the above-mentioned resolutions, has been triggered by the proliferation of hate speech and other series of worrying events, such as the prohibition by local authorities of holding equality and gay pride marches, the use by leading politicians and religious leaders of inflammatory or threatening language or hate speech, and the failure by the police to provide adequate protection against violent demonstrations by homophobic groups, even while breaking up peaceful demonstrations,
D. whereas equality and gay pride events are planned throughout Europe and the world in the forthcoming months, with participants and organisers facing possible physical violence, despite their fundamental right to freedom of expression and assembly, as recalled inter alia by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights,
E. whereas Matteo, a 16-year-old Italian citizen from Turin, recently committed suicide and left two suicide notes citing as the reason for his suicide the bullying that he suffered because of his sexual orientation; whereas civil society organisations in the United Kingdom have signalled an increase in instances of homophobic bullying in secondary schools throughout the United Kingdom; whereas a gay man was bludgeoned to death in the Netherlands solely for his sexual orientation and feminine appearance,
F. whereas Parliament has repeatedly asked for the completion of the anti-discrimination legislative package based on Article 13 of the EC Treaty, and periodically asks the Commission to propose a directive prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in all sectors,
G. whereas in its above-mentioned resolution of 15 June 2006, Parliament has already expressed its serious concern at the situation in Europe and notably in Poland, condemning the declarations of incitement to hatred and violence by the leaders of the Party of the League of Polish Families and, notably, by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education,
H. whereas in March 2007 the Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education announced draft legislation punishing "homosexual propaganda" in schools, and illustrated its content, which is to provide for dismissing, fining or imprisoning school heads, teachers and pupils in the event of LGBT rights "activism" in schools,
I. whereas the Polish Deputy Minister for Education confirmed that the administration is drafting such legislation and declared that "teachers who reveal their homosexuality will be fired from work"; whereas various members of the Polish Government reacted in different ways, leaving it unclear whether the legislation will in fact be proposed,
J. whereas the Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education has expressed a desire to promote the adoption of similar laws at European level,
K. whereas the proposed legislation received the support of the Polish Prime Minister, who declared that "promoting a homosexual lifestyle for young people in school as an alternative to normal life goes too far, and that these kinds of initiatives in schools have to be stopped", thus presenting a distorted interpretation of education and tolerance,
L. whereas the Polish Ombudsman for Children has stated that she is preparing a list of jobs for which homosexuals are unfit,
M. whereas in June 2006 the State Prosecutor's office ordered checks on the funding of LGBT organisations in connection with "criminal movements" and their presence in schools, in order to find traces of criminal activities, without any result,
N. whereas on 8 June 2006 the Polish Government sacked the head of the Centre for Teacher Development and prohibited the distribution of an official Council of Europe anti-discrimination manual, and whereas the new head of the Centre stated on 9 October 2006 that "improper patterns must not be present in schools, because the objective of school is to explain the difference between good and evil, beauty and ugliness… school must explain that homosexual practices lead to drama, emptiness and degeneracy",
O. whereas Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Terry Davis reacted to the events described by stating that "the Polish Government is free to decide whether it wishes to use Council of Europe material for human rights education, but if the teaching material is optional, the values and principles contained therein are certainly not" and expressed concern about "some policies promoting homophobia … and homophobic behaviours being accepted by the government",
P. whereas the Polish Government has also denied funding for projects sponsored by LGBT organisations in the framework of the European Youth Programme, and illustrated this decision in a letter to those organisations by stating that "the policy of the Ministry does not support actions that aim to propagate homosexual behaviour and such an attitude among young people ... [and] the role of the Ministry is not to support cooperation with homosexual organisations",
Q. whereas a number of positive developments may also be noted, such as the successful gay pride event in Warsaw in June 2006, the massive demonstration for tolerance and democracy in Warsaw in November 2006 after the banning of a tolerance demonstration in Poznan, the protection of the gay rights march in Krakow in April 2007, and the fact that gay pride marches are no longer systematically banned,
R. whereas Parliament has asked the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia to conduct an inquiry into the emerging climate of racist, xenophobic and homophobic intolerance in Poland, and has asked the Commission to verify whether the actions and declarations of the Polish Minister for Education are consistent with Article 6 of the TEU, while recalling the sanctions provided for breaching it, and whereas those requests have remained unmet,
1. Underlines that the European Union is first and foremost a community of values, with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law, equality and non-discrimination among its most cherished values;
2. Affirms that the EU institutions and Member States have a duty to ensure that the human rights of people living in Europe are respected, protected and promoted, as provided for by the ECHR, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 6 of the TEU, Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(5) and Council Directive 2000/78/EC;
3. Reiterates its request to the Commission to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in all sectors is prohibited by completing the anti-discrimination package based on Article 13 of the EC Treaty, without which lesbians, gays, bisexuals and other individuals facing multiple discrimination continue to be at risk of discrimination; calls for a worldwide decriminalisation of homosexuality;
4. Will mark International Day against Homophobia on 17 May each year;
5. Urges the Commission to speed up the review of implementation of the anti-discrimination directives and to institute proceedings against Member States in the event of violations of their obligations under Community law;
6. Reminds all Member States that, in accordance with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the right to freedom of assembly may be exercised even when the views of those exercising that right challenge the views of the majority and that, in consequence, discriminatory bans of pride marches, as well as the failure to provide proper protection to those taking part in them, contravene the principles protected by the ECHR; invites all competent authorities, including local authorities, to authorise such marches and protect participants adequately;
7. Condemns the discriminatory remarks by political and religious leaders targeting homosexuals, since they fuel hate and violence even if later withdrawn, and asks the respective organisations" hierarchies to condemn them;
8. Reiterates its invitation to all Member States to propose legislation to overcome the discrimination experienced by same-sex couples, and asks the Commission to make proposals to ensure that the mutual recognition principle is applied in this field also, in order to ensure the freedom of movement for all persons in the EU without discrimination;
9. Expresses its solidarity with, and support for, fundamental rights activists and defenders of equal rights for members of the LGBT community;
10. Urges the competent Polish authorities to refrain from proposing or adopting legislation as described by the Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education or from implementing intimidating measures against LGBT organisations;
11. Calls on the competent Polish authorities publicly to condemn and take measures against declarations by public leaders inciting discrimination and hatred based on sexual orientation; believes that any other behaviour would constitute a violation of Article 6 of the TEU;
12. Requests the Polish authorities to facilitate the implementation of the Year of Equal Opportunities 2007, and requests the Commission to monitor the implementation of the Year, in particular the clause whereby funding is conditional on ensuring that all grounds for discrimination are addressed equally in the national programmes;
13. Asks the Conference of Presidents to authorise the sending of a delegation to Poland on a fact-finding mission, with a view to obtaining a clear picture of the situation and entering into dialogue with all the parties concerned;
14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and the candidate countries, and the Council of Europe.
(1) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
Last updated: 30 April 2007
European Parliament Press Release
Poland urged to drop new law banning 'homosexual propaganda' in schools
Fundamental rights - 26-04-2007 - 02:04
Following a debate on homophobia in Europe, Parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday voicing concern at the recent announcement by the Polish Education Minister of a new draft law to outlaw 'homosexual propaganda' in schools. The resolution - adopted by 325 votes to 124, with 150 abstentions - calls for a fact-finding mission to be sent to Poland, for "worldwide de-criminalisation of homosexuality" and for the Commission to take Member States to court if they breach their EU obligations.
Although Poland is not the only country in Europe where homophobia is an issue - MEPs also mention cases of discrimination in Italy and the United Kingdom - most of the resolution focuses on recent developments in Poland. MEPs not only express concern about statements by Minister Giertych regarding a new law providing for the dismissal, fining or imprisonment of school directors, teachers and pupils in cases of gay rights' activism, they also note the Polish government's stated wish to promote similar laws at European level and the fact that the Polish Ombudsman for Children announced that she is preparing a list of jobs for which homosexuals are unfit. On the positive side, MEPs welcome the fact that gay pride events are no longer systematically banned in Poland.
Among its demands, Parliament calls for the "worldwide de-criminalisation of homosexuality" and reiterates its call to all Member States to bring forward legislation outlawing discrimination against same-sex couples. It also wants the Commission to ensure that the "principle of mutual recognition" of national laws is applied in this field to ensure the free movement of gay couples without discrimination. The Commission is also asked to draft new EU directives to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in all areas is prohibited -- so far there is only a Community law on equal treatment at work. Lastly, the Commission is urged to take Member States to Court if they violate their obligations under EU law.
A fact-finding mission to Poland?
In the resolution, MEPs urge the Polish authorities "to refrain from proposing or adopting a law as described by the Vice Prime Minister and Polish Minister of education". They also call on the authorities to "publicly condemn and take measures against declarations by public leaders inciting discrimination and hatred based on sexual orientation".
Lastly, Parliament requests the Conference of Presidents [the EP's political group leaders] to send a fact-finding mission to Poland, with a view to getting a clear picture of the situation and entering into dialogue with all parties concerned.
The European Parliament adopted a similar resolution on the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe "and notably in Poland" in June 2006. At that time MEPs mandated the European Monitoring Centre on Racism to conduct an inquiry into the emerging racist climate in Poland.
REF.: 20070420IPR05691 Contact:
Thursday 17 May 2007 11:11
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (National)
Ian McCartney statement on Britain's commitment to the decriminalisation of homosexuality
On the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) Foreign Office Minister Ian McCartney today affirmed Britain's commitment to the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality. Announcing the development of a new UK strategy on international LGBT rights he said:
"We have taken a lead in ending discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the UK. But elsewhere the picture remains bleak. More than 70 countries totally prohibit consenting same-sex relations, and nine countries punish them with death, denying people their basic human rights. Every year hundreds of LGBT people are killed simply because of their sexual orientation. Some by State execution; many more while the State looks on indifferently. Many thousands more live in fear of persecution. Human rights belong to everyone. Sexual orientation cannot be a qualifying factor."
"The Foreign and Commonwealth is developing a strategy for promoting and protecting the human rights of LGBT people overseas. This year sees the 40th Anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act in the UK, which began the decriminalisation of homosexuality. We can mark this milestone by speaking up for those millions around the world who are branded as criminals simply for being who they are. I look forward to working in partnership with NGOs and other stakeholders to develop our strategy."
"LGBT people have struggled to gain recognition of their human rights internationally. Many states refuse even to consider these issues and strive to keep them off the international agenda. Millions of our fellow human beings live in societies still blighted by stigma, prejudice and shame. Their suffering is unseen and unheard. These will be difficult issues to raise, but we must speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves."
In an addition to efforts on decriminalisation there are 5 other areas where UK action can make a difference:
- non-discrimination in the application of human rights;
- support for LGBT activists and human rights defenders;
- health and health education;
- raising LGBT issues at international / multilateral institutions;
- and bilateral engagement with key countries.
Notes for Editors:
Speech by Ian McCartney to the Human Rights Council about discrimination.
Press Office, Downing Street (West), London SW1A 2AL
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「トランスジェンダー」訴え きょう街頭活動 (読売・都内版 2007/05/17朝刊)