Monday, November 06, 2006

Surprise, surprise

Becca at p3 has written a very angry post about how EU funds are being denied the Campaign Against Homophobia in Poland. Shock!

Apparently Brussels gives the funds to the Education Ministry to dole out to NGOs etc to promote ‘tolerance’. Thing is, the current Education Minister is Roman Giertych.

Becca’s post is here and be prepared, quite frankly, not to be surprised. A more shocking post would be: ‘Polish Education Ministry funds gay rights campaign!’

If Brussels really wants to fund these groups then it should be via a direct grant from the EU, and not left in the hands of politicians who are elected to oppose it.

We may not like what they do sometimes – we definitely don’t like what they do sometimes - but nations should have some autonomy on what causes etc they think worth finding. This government doesn’t, obviously, think the Campaign Against Homophobia is one of those organizations. Maybe the best way to fight that is by engaging in politics and debate in this country, and not in the convoluted, remote, corridors of Brussels.

39 comments:

Michael Farris said...

"If Brussels really wants to fund these groups then it should be via a direct grant from the EU, and not left in the hands of politicians who are elected to oppose it."

Giertych was not elected Minister of Education.

Though as much as I dislike him, I have to defend him against the current disapproval from the US embassy which is acting _way_ out of line.

Making me defend a Giertych is yet another thing I'll never forgive the administration for.

mullet said...

yes, kind of like cut out the middle man. As for funds for anti-homophobic campaigns, seek out the lottery grants. If Polands lottery doesn't work that way, then move to britain.

Jannovak57 said...

Michael Farris said:

“Though as much as I dislike him, I have to defend him against the current disapproval from the US embassy which is acting _way_ out of line.”

I have been unable to find a news story about Roman Giertych and the US embassy please eloborate on what the US embassy is doing.

Michael Farris said...

Basically,
1. Giertych calls for a head count of civilian deaths in Iraq
2. Vice ambassador (one Kenneth Hillas) gets in a tizzy saying "a vicepremier in Germany, France or Denmark would be removed from office for saying something like that." Suggests that ambassador will have more to say on this topic at next meeting with JK
3. Polish government not pleased!

latest installment (incl links to earlier installments) here:
http://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/wiadomosci/1,53600,3722354.html

beatroot said...

Mike. Nobody is elected a minister, but to be a minister you have to be elected. Unlike the European Commission, which are appointed.

Becca said...

MEPs are elected.

And I'm not sure direct grants are the answer. Member states are all a part of Europe, they have all signed up to certain rights and responsibilities and they simply have to respect those.

The EU is too big a machine to control every detail of every fund in Brussels, and member states should be more than capable of dealing with the administation.

Funds should be distributed properly, according to the purposes they were designed. Full stop.

Michael Farris said...

My point was that Mr Ed was elected to be a member of parliament (just barely IIRC), not minister of education.
I just thought that some people might misunderstand the 'elected' reference in the post.
And had voters known that the Kaczynskis might do something so daft as to appoint him to that position PiS might have had electoral problems of there own.

On the quesiton of these funds. This is not the first Polish government to be squeamis

Michael Farris said...

"On the quesiton of these funds. This is not the first Polish government to be squeamis... "

Oops, let's finish that thought, shall we?

In the 90's there was a minor scandale (before internet so it didn't get that far) about the Polish government taking money earmarked for specific kinds of sex education and then using it to the opposite effect - essentially promoting the ideas that the money was earmarked to fight.

beatroot said...

MEPs are elected but they are also powerless and a complete waste of space.

The EU is too big a machine to control every detail of every fund in Brussels, and member states should be more than capable of dealing with the administation.

If that is the case then you can't really be surprised that people like Giertych are not going to give funds to CAH in Poland. That's just ridiculous to expect him to, or any of the other members of the government here.

The EU is one of the reasons why people are disengaging with politics more and more these days. If democratically elected politicians have no power to decide what types of groups to fund and what types of society they want to see in their own countries, then you can understand why many think voting for national parliaments is a waste of time. A charade.

You may not like it, I may not like it, but Giertych is a democratically elected politician and therefor one that is directly accountable to Poles, can be got rid of, or not, by Poles. That's important.

Becca said...

Democratically elected politicians have the power to decide what types of groups they fund according to specific guidelines the country has agreed to by being part of the EU.

They are doing something similar to what Michael Farris referred to - they are blocking money intended to fight discrimination because of homophobic beliefs.

You can't just grab the money for road building and ignore the money that is supposed to provide young people with the opportunity for educational experiences in another EU country.

Giertych etc are going against treaties Poland has signed up to. An elected politician still has to abide by legal obligations.

Gustav said...

It may not be surprising that Giertych opposes such programs, but I agree with Becca: It is NOT ridiculous to expect nationally elected officials to uphold EU laws and policy. They were elected to do that too. If they don't like it, they ought to be fighting it in Brussels. But as I understand it, EU law takes precedent over Polish law, and EU law says you cannot discriminate against homosexuals.

It's as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

"they are blocking money intended to fight discrimination because of homophobic beliefs"

Is the money specifically earmarked for fighting homophobia?
If yes, then the only legitimate choices are a) accept it and use it the way it was meant b) don't accept it in the first place.

I'm not clear, is Giertych accepting earmarked monies and using them for other purposes?(this would be absolutely wrong) or accepting large chunks of general money and distributing as he sees fit? (this is appropriate, as reprehensible as his choices might be to you or me).

Michael Farris said...

Michael Farris: that wasn't anonymous just now, that was me. blogger might be having another episode...

Becca said...

The money for the projects such as the one that was rejected is part of the EU's Youth Programme whose aims include giving young people “a better understanding of cultural diversity and the fight against any form of racism and xenophobia or discrimination”.

ig da geez said...

Maybe England should be forced to use the money to reeducate Trevor Phillips?

So that he develop “a better understanding of cultural diversity and the fight against any form of racism and xenophobia or discrimination”.

unelectedarbiter said...

Beatroot, you make it an issue of nation versus EU, but it's not. It's a question of seeing the difference between
i)combatting prejudice
and
ii) promoting gay life.
The Polish organisation is simply wrong if it says that because of its opposition to ii) it cannot allow the project on i)to go ahead.

beatroot said...

But the government isn't interested in combating prejudice. That's a Polish problem. And that cannot be sorted out by the brussel spouts. Changes must occur from within the society itself. Having things foisted on nations does not help them change, if anything it makes things worse (check out Iraq at the moment).

polishpenguin said...

Giertych is president of the League of Polish Families. It's a little ironic that people are surprised about him still making homophobic statements. Then you have Kaczynski saying that none of this is true. What do you expect when Giertych is supposedly promoting the "family".

beatroot said...

For instance, in the UK in the late 1980s we had the Thatcher government’s ‘Clause 28’ law, which forbid the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ by local authorities. What ever that meant. When I was a student teacher my college, including me had two half day strikes over this.

Now, between then and now British attitudes have changed considerably from those dark Thatcherite days. And that social change came about through the political activities and processes of the British themselves. It did not come about from some directive from Brussels. In fact directives from Brussels make things worse as conservatives can point to ‘outside interference’ in British affairs etc etc. Just as conservatives are doing here in Poland.

So Poles have to have this debate for themselves. Social and political change must come from within and not imposed from without.

Becca said...

Sorry if I sound like a broken record BUT Poland signed up to the EU, therefore to treaties and obligations.

These are not concepts being 'foisted' upon Poles by Brussels, these are commonly accepted values that Polish politicians agreed to abide by when Poland became part of the EU.

Comparisons with Iraq are a little extreme I think too...

Poland has a hell of a lot of MEPs, its commissioner and a great deal of representation in Brussels- just like all the member states so seeing it as a them and us thing is questionable.

Yes, by all means let Poles have this debate themselves, but at the moment, the homophobic minister for education is taking over and stomping on all the rules that the Polish government has agreed to.

beatroot said...

Becca, do you really think that Poles signed up to the thousands and thousands of weird bits of legislation that crawl out of Brussels everyday? This argument about ‘well, they signed up to it so tough’ is technically true, but politically naïve.

And I don’t want to sound like a broken record either, but deferring crucial political decisions to Brussels is dangerous and counter productive.

If the money has been given to the Polish government to hand out as they see fit then there is not really much the EC can do about it. But Poles can do something – they can get rid of the present government at the ballot box, if they want. That would be a much more democratic and empowering way to proceed.

Becca said...

Come on Beatroot, thousands and thousands of weird bits of leiglation every day? Let's not exaggerate too much shall we...

Yes, I daresay I am politically naive, but the money has not simply been given to the Polish government to hand out as they see fit, it is part of a europe-wide specific programme that has certain objectives, which they are blatantly ignoring, and actually going against.

I agree that the best change would come from within, but that doesn't give the minister of education the right to dismiss his EU responsibilities.

beatroot said...

No Becca, I was saying that the argument was ‘technically correct but politically naïve’. I don’t call people names on this blog.

But if you are saying that when Poles went to vote in the referendum on EU membership they were including in their calculations whether or not EU money should be paid to the Campaign Against Homophobia – or that they are even aware today that CAH receive money from Brussels - then I would say …bullshit! Of course they didn’t.

I would also say too that I do not think the EU should be lobbying out money to these kind of political groups. If the CAH want funding then they should campaign and win support for it – and I will gladly send them a few zlots.

But the EU is not our nanny and campaigners should not expect it to come and save them.

Becca said...

I think you've got the wrong end of the stick Beatroot, it was an EVS project, which is part of a programme with specifically defined objectives which have been ignored. This is whole basis of my disgust.

This is nothing to do with the EU lobbying out money to a political group, just an educational voluntary project funded by an EU programme.

When Poles went to vote in the referendum on EU membership some of them may have ben aware that they were signing up to the charter on fundamental rights, which includes anti-discrimination, yes.

beatroot said...

This is nothing to do with the EU lobbying out money to a political group, just an educational voluntary project funded by an EU programme.

So is CAH a listed EU organization to which the EU sent this money to?

And is CAH an 'educational group'?

I hope not, Becca. It is a political group with political aims. Don't try and depoliticize gay rights. This is exactly my point. This is a political issue and should be dealt with and engaged by Poles as a poltical issue. It's about what kind of society they want to live in. Conservative/religious - or liberal/secular.

The EU depoliticizes everything - or tries to - and that is not healthy for democracy and adds to the general political apathy (can you see the theme on the blog for this week? :-)

the government should have a right to define which group it gives this money to. They are elected people. We can change them. Or not.

Harry said...

Yes they should have a right to define where the money goes. But that right should not be based on the principles of discrimination. Or would you like the government to put a sign in their window saying "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish. And no gays either."?

beatroot said...

Harry
I think it's clear where I stand on discrimination against anyone. Just look at a few of the past posts on this blog. But that's not my point, as I am sure you know.

Harry said...

Actually I'm not sure what your point is. I can't see how campaigning for equal rights for any group is a political issue. And I can not see how refusing to give somebody EU money based on which hole they do or do not use for having sex is something which should even be debated. Either one opposed discrimination every time and place where it is found or one might as well put a "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish" sign in one's window (obviously adjusted if one is black and/or Irish, and/or has a dog).

beatroot said...

Of course Rights are a political issue! Look at the difference between women’s right before and after the Suffragettes. Women had to win those rights politically. Same with the gay movement in UK. Clause 28 was not so long ago, mate.

Abortion in Poland is a political issue and it involves the contest between rights of women and the ‘right to life’…

So the definition of Rights is political and so is winning them. Campaign Against Homophobia is a political issue because it involves all sorts of rights. The present Polish government obviously is not too keen of gays and thinks they are the devil. But I think it should be up to elected governments to decide what groups it supports. And if Poles don’t like it then they should kick them out.

The other way is the EU taking over all the difficult decisions for domestic governments and so alienating people even more from politics.

Innit?

Harry said...

^ There's the fundamental point you are missing in this matter: the Polish government are not choosing which groups they support financially, they are choosing which groups the EU can support financially. It is not the Polish government's money so even if somebody does think that it is perfectly acceptable for the Polish government to decide whether to give financial support to people based on which hole they do or do not use for having sex, in this case the Polish government is not doing that: they are cutting off access of certain people to EU money!

I agree that the definition of of rights is political. So are the exact rights which people should enjoy. Equality however is not political. Either one believes that everybody has the same rights or one thinks that some people should have their rights limited. It might be necessary to win equal rights through political efforts but the aim is non-political.

The campaign against homophobic does not involve all sorts of rights. It only involves one right: the right to equality for all. Even members of the LPR.

beatroot said...

Harry, there is no such thing as the ‘right to equality’. What does it mean? Maybe the ‘right to equality before the law’ is a ‘right’ but equality is not a concept that is covered in any human rights legislation.

CAH in Poland involves many rights. For instance the Right to Free Assembly has regularly been blocked in Krakow, Warsaw…this year there were victories for CAH in that they won the right to march in Warsaw. That was important because they won that right. Rights cannot be ‘given’ they have to be won, if they are to mean anything at all.

CAH also involves the Right to Free Speech ad Expression’ and many others.

My point is that when outside agencies try and force these rights then it is counterproductive. The EU has energized the conservatives here and they are better organized than Polish liberals. These ‘rights’ will be won once liberals and ;progressives’ get off their arses and start building campaigns ‘organically’ , initiating debates about what kind of country people want, among the Polish population, This will not be done via the EU.
Real and lasting social change happens from within and cannot be imposed.

Harry said...

^ Er,

"United Nations General Assembly (1948)
Universal Declaration
of Human Rights
PREAMBLE
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all
members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,"

"International Actions
As a founding member of the United Nations Organisation, Poland ratified most of the international agreements concerning the protection of human rights before 1989."
http://www.poland.gov.pl/Human,Rights,in,Poland,394.html

beatroot said...

So, funds from the EU are a human right, are they?

Why has this issue become so much more important (to the liberal left) than the abortion law, for instance? And would you expect this government to dole out the cash for pro-choice groups as well?

Maybe they do and are just not telling us!!! Me smells a story!

Harry said...

Equality under the law is perhaps the most fundamental human right. Whether the law in question regards not being shot in the street or having access to EU funds is irrelevant.

No outside agency needs to force equal rights. The Polish constitution guarantees those rights. And so does European law. Our bigots might choose to ignore their law but they can not ignore EU law. Watch the shit hit the fan on this one.

beatroot said...

How is not giving money to CAH denying someone's righs?

And Harry, they can ignore EU law and countries do it all the time, EC makes noises and then...nothing.

The constitutional court is the right way to go for Polush citizens (though the way it is interpreted can vary - see the recent ruling on 'insulting' public figures).

I still think it is counterproductive to expect governments like this one to make these payments. What is the point of voting for governments if they have no autonomy?

beatroot said...

And by the way, the EU does fund Pro-Choice groups but not Pro-Life groups. Money for women’s groups is given directly from the EC (good idea) to an NGO umbrella group, which has about 3,000 groups affiliated to it.

Pro-life groups (led by an Irish MEP) are trying to get themselves included in the umbrella group. But this would greatly expand the number of groups, meaning there would be less money to go round.

But you can see how the EU is just encouraging these conservative groups by apparently having one rule for one type of politics and one for another. I’d say that was a problem, and one that will add to the growth of conservative groups.

Harry said...

How is it denying rights? Are you serious? They are refusing to give somebody access to EU funding solely due to the sexual preference of that person.

Would you accept a person being denied EU funding solely because they are Irish? So why do you not seem to have a problem with a person being denied it because they may be gay?

We can argue about whether or not it is acceptable to ignore the EU but not about whether it is acceptable to decide that somebody is less equal than others because of their perceived sexual preference.

I have no idea why you say "expect governments like this one to make these payments". They are not making any payment. They are simply distributing EU funds. What is the point of voting for governments if they have no autonomy? We do vote for this government. We vote for the EU government. And from what I can remember the right to decide that certain citizens is not a right which governments possess.

No funding for pro-life groups? Boo-fucking-hoo. Guess that they will just have to fall back on all the tax-free money which the Catholic church gives them from its tax-free profits. And I will thank you not to throw red herrings into the debate. Pro-choice or pro-life (apart from the lives ended in backstreet abortions of course) is a choice people make. Sexuality is not.

Denying funding to people who want to limit the rights of other people is very sensible, no matter which right they wish to limit. Denying funding to people who want to limit nobody's rights but instead ensure that all people have the same rights is wrong.

At the end of the day things are very clear cut: one either supports equal rights for everybody or one is on the side of the people who say things like "Who cares if he didn't actually plant the bomb? He's Irish and they're all the same, the murdering fenian bastards. Could you go a chicken supper bobby sands? Could you go a chicken supper bobby sands? Could you go a chicken supper ya dirty fenian fucker? Could you go a chicken supper bobby sands?"

I know which side of the line I'm on and I thought that I knew which side you are on. I'm pretty sure that I still do but I hope to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I'm not.

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