Group connected to 'LGBT-Free Zone' newspaper cancels Carnegie Hall event

Gazeta Polska Community of America's planned Carnegie Hall concert ran into opposition from musicians who did not want to support an anti-gay newspaper.
Image: FILE PHOTO: Sticker with words  "LGBT-free zone" distributed in weekly conservative magazine "Gazeta Polska" is pictured in Warsaw,
A sticker with the words "LGBT-free zone" distributed in the weekly conservative magazine "Gazeta Polska."Kacper Pempel / Reuters
By Tim Fitzsimons

Carnegie Hall announced Saturday that Gazeta Polska Community of America, a U.S.-based group connected to the far-right Gazeta Polska newspaper in Poland, has canceled its scheduled Oct. 24 concert.

"Carnegie Hall has been speaking with this rental group this week since we learned of the sticker campaign,” Synneve Carlino, a Carnegie Hall spokesperson, said. “While they have told us that they don’t support the campaign, they informed us today that they will not present the performance."

Gazeta Polska, a weekly Polish newsmagazine, has been criticized for its virulently anti-LGBTQ and anti-migrant content. Earlier this summer, it sparked global condemnation and an advertiser boycott in Europe after distributing “LGBT-Free Zone” stickers.

In addition, a summer 2019 issue featured an image of rainbow paint-stained hands desecrating a statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus under the headlines “They want to destroy civilization” and “They want to stamp on everything that we have been.”

While Gazeta Polska Community of America claimed it is "independent and separate from the Gazeta Polska print media and it's editorial board," Rafal Pankowski, a sociology professor in Warsaw and member of the Polish anti-racism watchdog group Never Again, said the U.S.-based foundation “shares the political perspectives of the newspaper," adding that Gazeta Polska's controversial editor, Tomasz Sakiewicz, " is very active in organizing it and leading it."

The now-canceled Carnegie Hall concert had faced pushback from multiple performers, including pianists Jack Gibbons and Paul Bisaccia, both of whom turned down the event after learning more about the event host's ties to the infamous Polish publication.

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