By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com July 17 2010 12:30 PM ET
Poland has hosted its first EuroPride gay pride festival, attended by thousands in a country not known for its tolerance of homosexuality.
"We feel like they are 20 years behind the Netherlands," Ad Bakker, a 39-year-old festival attendee who traveled from Holland told BBC News.
Crowds at the festival paled in comparison to previous EuroPride celebrations elsewhere in Europe, however. More than one million people attended the 2007 Madrid EuroPride, BBC reported.
In April Poland lost one of its strongest gay rights supporters: Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, a former Polish deputy prime minister who died in a plane crash that also killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski and dozens of political and military leaders.
Jaruga-Nowacka, who served as deputy PM from 2004 to 2005, was a well-known critic of Kacynzki's antigay policies, including the repeated cancellation of gay pride marches when he was the mayor of Warsaw.
A regular speaker at gay rights rallies in Poland, Jaruga-Nowacka told a Warsaw crowd in 2005, "We are for democracy. We are for protection of all human rights, not only for some groups who are in the majority in Poland. All citizens have the right to choose their own way of life."