Monday 12 November 2018

Controversial comic's show 'shouldn't be allowed,' say LGBT activists

Controversial: Wojciech Cejrowski
Controversial: Wojciech Cejrowski

Victoria Leonard

An LGBT support group says that a controversial Polish comedian due to appear at a local arts centre on Saturday is "not welcome in Belfast".

Wojciech Cejrowski is set to perform at Strand Arts Centre, where he has a private hire booking, to promote his travel book.

However, LGBT support group The Rainbow Project claimed that Mr Cejrowski has a "well-known history of making discriminatory and inflammatory comments" against the LGBT community, women and immigrants on TV and YouTube.

Director of The Rainbow Project John O'Doherty stated: "We spoke out originally in July when this event was announced.

"This content is homophobic in nature with direct intent to incite exclusion and discrimination against members of the LGBT+ community. His comments are also explicitly derogatory towards women claiming that their place is in the home and that they are inferior to men.

"With regards to immigration, Cejrowski has also called for immigrants to be expelled from Poland. I am urging our political and community representatives from east Belfast and across Belfast to speak out against this performance."

A spokesman for the Strand Arts Centre said that the venue had received a private hire booking for an event by Mr Cejrowski, who he described as a "new customer" in June.

He added: "At that time, we were provided with limited details of the nature of the private hire nor were we made aware that Mr Cejrowski was known in Poland as having a range of personal views which might be considered by some as controversial.

"Upon receiving an expression of concern in relation to this booking and upon being advised on the nature of some of Mr Cejrowski's views, Strand Arts Centre decided to cancel the event."

But after discussions with event organisers and Mr Cejrowski's solicitor, the spokesman said the venue had "received assurances that the event will exclusively entail a discussion about Mr Cejrowski's travel experiences in connection with the promotion of his travel book and will not include any discussion of his personal opinions".

He added: "In light of these assurances, Strand Arts Centre has agreed to re-instate Mr Cejrowski's private hire booking."

However, they said that the Strand Arts Centre is "undertaking a review of our private hire policy and, in particular, our rights of cancellation to ensure that all future private hire events held on our premises are consistent with those core aims and objectives".

Belfast Telegraph

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