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Planned talk by 'fascist' blocked by university after protests

30 October 2013

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Pictured left: Revellers at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender fund-raising event in Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Saturday. The event raised over £2,000 for LGBT charities in Russia and Uganda

Pictured right: Robert Winnicki

PLANS by a right-wing Polish leader to hold a talk at Aberystwyth University ended after the university blocked it from going ahead, following protests from gay people.

Over 50 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activists and anti-fascist campaigners gathered in Bank Square on Friday evening to demonstrate against the visit by Robert Winnicki.

A poster was distributed saying that Mr Winnicki’s talk was taking place at Old College on Friday, 25 October, but the university moved to pull the plug on it, saying it was not an “official” event.

It is understood that Mr Winnicki, who is said to hold “extreme” homophobic and anti-Semitic views, ended up holding a private event in front of around 10 people in someone’s home.

Nevertheless, policing was stepped up at a number of premises over the weekend - including Aberystwyth Arts Centre, where a fund-raising event was held by LGBT activists on Saturday.

Aberystwyth University said the talk was arranged by a society which is not recognised either by the university or students’ union.

The students’ union went further, saying it did not support “extremists or ex-tremist groups” in airing their opinions to the student body.

University worker Ruth Fowler, who is co-ordinator of the staff LGBT Network and an Equality Champion, described Mr Winnicki’s views as “upsetting and distressing”.

She added: “From what I have read and heard about Robert Winnicki, he is a fascist who compares his treatment of gay people to the way Hitler treated the Jewish community. I am not used to hearing these kind of extremist views and I find it very upsetting and distressing. These kind of extremist views are exactly what I’m fighting against.”Mr Winnicki, in conjunction with UK Polish organisation Patriae Fidelis, is taking part in a four-date tour of the country.

He is the honorary president of M?odzie? Wszechpolska (MW), which translates as the All Polish Youth Movement, an organisation widely condemned as homophobic by organisations including Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch. The UN has also condemned MW, describing it as an “extremist homophobic grouping”.

A spokesperson for Aberystwyth University added: “The university has a strong equality and diversity ethos and cannot condone any event which is perceived as a breach of such practices.”

In a statement, the students’ union added: “We would like to make it clear that Polsoc is not an affiliated student society with Aberystwyth University Students’ Union.

“The Students’ Union does not support extremists or extremist groups in airing their opinions to the student body.”

A police spokesperson added: “Dyfed-Powys Police is aware and monitoring the situation and has appropriate resources in place.”

 

Click here for the full story, or see this week's Aberystwyth edition of the Cambrian News

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