Marek Siwiec MEP on Poland & Europe

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Michael Cashman is a Labour Member of the European Parliament. He is a president of the LGBT-rights intergroup. The structure consists of 139 members representing almost all countries and all political groups. I have talked with Michael Cashman about a recent voting on civil partnerships in the Polish Sejm. He was very much interested in the results and curious about the distribution of votes. However, both a negative outcome as well as the behaviour of conservatists did not come as a surprise to him.

His comment was direct – 20 years ago there was an identical situation in Great Britain. Numerous associations and sexual minority groups had been addressing politicians to fight for their own rights. It had taken a long time with no success. And finally, one day, politicians became aware of the fact that we were a firm electorate to be attracted by them and not the other way around. The roles switched and at that moment they started addressing us. The left-leaning parties were first to understand it. Today everyone understands it.

Cashman was an actor at that time. He was famous for a first gay kiss publically shown in British television. He was a member of some associations fighting for homosexual’s rights. Since 1999, he has been a representative of British Labour Party in the European Parliament. He has been dealing with human rights here. He has been in a registered civil partnership with his male partner for 20 years now. Therefore, from the point of view of Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS), Gowin, Żalk and 1/4 of the Civic Platform (PO) in Sejm, he is abnormal and unproductive. It did not stand as an obstacle for him, though, to be awarded the title of the Commander of the Order of the British Empire this year which completed his collection of previously received honorary titles and awards.

I am writing about it to draw some practical conclusions from the circumstances in the Polish Sejm. These will be the conclusions for the political left, gay activists and parliamentarians. Look at Great Britain and Michael Cashman. This is an example to follow.

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