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Polish watchdog
backs off Teletubbies investigation

Polish watchdog
backs off Teletubbies investigation

Poland's watchdog for children's rights had been quoted as saying she would ask psychologists to investigate whether one of the characters on the BBC children's show Teletubbies is gay. On Tuesday, however, she backed away from her comments.

Ewa Sowinska, Poland's ombudsman for children's rights, said in a Wprost magazine interview that the Teletubbies character Tinky Winky, who carries a purse, could possibly be promoting homosexuality.

''I noticed that he has a purse, but I didn't realize he's a boy,'' Sowinska told the magazine in an interview her office approved before publication. ''At first I thought that must be a bother for him. Later I learned that there could be some hidden homosexual undertones.''

Sowinska said she would ask her office's psychologists to look into the allegations ''and judge whether it can be shown on public television and whether the suggested problem really exists.''

On Tuesday, however, Sowinska spokeswoman Wieslawa Lipinska told the Associated Press that Sowinska ''hasn't asked and won't ask'' psychologists to investigate whether the show promotes homosexuality. ''They are fictional characters. They have nothing to do with reality, and the bag and scissors and other props the fictional characters use are there to create a fictional world that speaks to children,'' Lipinska said. ''We are not going to deal with this issue anymore.''

Sowinska is a member of the League of Polish Families party, which is militantly antigay and antiabortion. The party is a junior member in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

A similar controversy erupted in the United States in 1999 when the late Jerry Falwell suggested Tinky Winky was gay.

In a statement Tuesday, the BBC denied the allegations against the program.

''Children love to play with bags of all kinds, and this fascination is reflected in Tinky Winky's favorite thing,'' the BBC said. ''To suggest the series has a political agenda is simply not true.'' (The Advocate)

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