Kelly Sans Culotte

Gay Mundo

Warsaw's "Le Madame" Shut Down
Cops storm queer, countercultural club.
By Tomek Kitlinski and Pawel Leszkowicz

Krystian Legierski, embattled club owner

Complete Coverage
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WARSAW, APRIL 4, 2006. Warsaw's legendary queer and countercultural club, Le Madame, was stormed by the police on Friday, March 31, 2006 at 6 a.m., and shut down after a five-day siege. Many of the 50 people who were guarding the club at the time were brutally beaten or dragged out.

Hundreds of volunteers, both gay and straight, had been taking turns occupying the club since the cops first attempted to shut it down on Monday March 27. In addition to being the hub of Poland's queer culture, offering plays, music and performance art, Le Madame hosted a wide array of other counter-cultural, avant-garde, and political events. The Warsaw Green Party, for example, had its offices on the club's first floor. The club, which opened three years ago, occupied a former pre-war factory building.

The shutdown was ordered by the Warsaw City Council controlled by the governing right-wing Law and Justice party of the homophobic Kaczynski twins, President Lech, and party boss Jaroslav. While still mayor of Warsaw, Poland's President, Lech Kaczynski, repeatedly slammed the club and refused to meet with its owner, Polish gay activist Krystian Legierski, who is black.

Legierski has been the target of a relentless hate campaign. The far-right group Blood and Honor included him in their online "deviants list." The entry read: "Krystian Legierski: fag and nigger. How much worse can you get?" Legierski was called, "not quite Polish" by Anna Sobecka, a leading politician of the League of Polish Families, another far-right party allied to the Kaczinski brothers.

Coverage of Le Madame's events has been generally sympathetic to the club in most of the Polish mainstream media, which is generally hostile to queers.

The shutdown of Le Madame is the latest in a string of attacks against Poland's embattled queers, women, and ethnic minorities since the right-wing Kaczynski government was elected last October. On March 8, queers participating in a women's march in Warsaw were met with "Ban the Fags" signs carried by counter-demonstrators from the National Revival of Poland, a party that denies the Holocaust. The same day in Gdansk, gay and feminist activists were pelted with stones amid shouts of "We'll do to you what Hitler did to Jews."

From the Web

Gay City News: The Siege of Le Madame
Poland: Campaign Against Homophobia
Polish queer portal — Innastrona

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