A threatened conflict over Polish toddlers’ right to watch Teletubbies looks to have been avoided after a government minister denied expressing concerns that Tinky Winky might be homosexual.
The character in the popular BBC programme for under-fives carries a purse, critics call it a handbag, and in a weekly magazine Poland’s Minister for Children was quoted as saying “action would be needed if he were shown to be encouraging inappropriate attitudes”.
But Ewa Sowinska says she was misquoted and her only worry was how such a small character could manipulate such a big bag. Sowinska’s inability to get fantasy is in keeping with the moral tone of her government superiors. Education minister Roman Giertych last week presented a bill banning all information on homosexuality in schools – an earlier version had proposed sacking any teachers found guilty of promoting homosexuality.
Gay rights activists have been up in arms over the proposed measures – 4000 demonstrated in Warsaw two weeks back and they were joined by 25 members of the European Parliament who travelled to express their solidarity with the movement.
The European Parliament has been keeping a particularly close watch on the issue and has passed a resolution condemning homophobic legislation, and the European Court of Human Rights recently condemned Poland for banning a gay pride demonstration two years ago.
But the repressive line has its supporters in a country which is 90 per cent catholic. A recent opinion poll suggested 53 per cent of the population believes homosexuals are sinners and 45 per cent believe that they should be encouraged to try to change their sexual orientation.