Fighting homophobia

Quiet Saturday – preparing for a week to come that will be packed with activities.

I was just out for a short walk in the Łazienki park, two minutes away from the Embassy. It is lovely at anytime but especially now when spring is transforming itself into summer. I am eagerly looking forward to the start of the Chopin concerts tomorrow. Twice every Sunday. My wife Karin and try to be there as often as we can.

Perhaps there will be another walk later this evening – for the night of the Museums. I saw a poster outside that even the Prime Minister’s Office will take part. And my teacher in Polish showed me an newspaper article about the programme, including some outdoor activities like a concert late this evening in Łazienki.

For Swedes there are other attractions available today as well. The semifinal against Finland in icehockey after the – in my eyes – quite unexpected but well deserved victory against Canada the other day. And then Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö of course (though without Poland). When our daughters were younger these real highlights in our spring TV agenda (and I liked them as well). These days I watch with a lower degree of intensity but having worked for many years with countries in Eastern and Southeastern Europe at our development agency Sida I have really enjoyed seeing countries  like Ukraine, Bosnia, Serbia and Moldova here appearing in the European context where there truly belong.

The week that passed was a reasonably well balanced one. A variety of activities inside and outside the Embassy. Like for instance: Some work with our reports ahead of the European Council meeting next week. Some useful meetings together with staff members at the Embassy i.a. to collect information about the energy sector. A very interesting lunch with the President of the Employer’s Organisation Lewiatan Ms Henryka Bochniarz which touched upon several issues but not least the upcoming Women’s Congress in June as well as the European Forum for New Ideas organised by Lewiatan in Sopot in September. An extremely inspiring meeting with students from the Polish Forum of Young Diplomats where I was received questions about a huge amount different aspects of Sweden and the “Swedish model”: How has the welfare state been made possible? Can Sweden share experiences on environment with Poland? (Yes and we do!). Is Sweden still committed to the Eastern Partnership that our two countrieshas  initiated within EU? (Yes for sure).

And much, much more. From my side a lot was said about gender equality since it is so closely connected to economic development and welfare.

This student meeting took place yesterday, Friday. A very special day indeed. The National Day of Norway which I celebrated at a very nice reception organised by my new Norwegian colleague Karsten Klepsvik and his wife Heidi including a small concert with a great choir from Oslo. In this context it should be underlined how much we Nordic colleagues benefit from each other. Like knowledge sharing. Joint meetings. Joint consular emergency preparedness. In all three countries where I have been Ambassador the Nordic “family” has been very close and very important. Not least so here in Warsaw.

Yesterday was also the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. I wrote a lot about it on Facebook and Twitter yesterday including sharing some hopefully useful links.

One of those links came from the Polish NGO KPH (Campaign against homophobia) – a short video from Youtube giving voice to young LGBT-people. I would really recommend you to watch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyxSdwDQAlk&feature=youtu.be.

We received a mail yesterday from KPH with this link. The last sentence is especially worth quoting:

At the end of one of the videos a 16-year-old lesbian girl is saying “I wish that one day I’m going to have a wife, children, a family. I know it’s probably never going to come true, but still..”. Let’s help the dream come true!’

I wrote an article around these issues myself that was published yesterday on the website of Feminoteka. Mainly with three key messages. 1. The rights of LGBT-persons must be moved much higher on the political agenda all over the world. Because this is about human rights. 2. Change is possible. 3. We can all make a difference. The full Polish text could be found through this link:  http://www.feminoteka.pl/readarticle.php?article_id=1278

A Swedish version is posted on the Embassy website: http://www.swedenabroad.com/sv-SE/Ambassader/Warszawa/Aktuellt/Nyheter/Den-internationella-dagen-mot-homofobi-och-transfobi–sys/

Please listen also to the message from the Polish Minister for Equality Ms Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz on Youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYSfLxFl44E&feature=youtu.be

And continuing alsong the same lines – the Swedish film “Pocałuj mnie (Kiss me)” is now showed in the cinemas here. I haven’t seen it mself yet but I have seen the trailers on TV earlier and it definitely caught my interest.

My Friday ended rather late in the evening with a new remarkable experience in the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews. A video installation based on amateur films recorded by Jews on temporary visits back to Poland in the intrawar period. Touching, fascinating. You should see really see it, it will be there for some months.

And what lies ahead the upcoming week? A lot – with gender equality as an overarching theme and with our conference on Wednesday with i.a. Minister Maria Arnholm from Sweden as a highlight. The week will kick off early Monday morning when I have been invited to the morning TV “Kawa czy herbata?” in TVP1 to talk about these issues. Six minutes just after 7.00 in the morning. I will give some attention to parental leave for fathers for sure.

And let me therefore conclude with the pictures from our photo contest “Oko na tatę (Eye on Daddy)”: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ispthinktank/sets/72157633294010819/

Have a look, you won’t regret it, I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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