SPR – A Short Introduction
SPR, or in English: The Diversity Workshop, is a non-governmental non-profit organization founded in 2009 in Toruń, Poland.
We think that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and queer people are an integral part of a diverse society. That every person, regardless of their psychosexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, religious denomination or lack thereof, needs to be treated equally. We promote social inclusiveness and civil society through the means of democratic process. We seek to integrate the local LGBT community, activate its potential, increase their awareness of the rights they have, and provide help, whenever it is needed. We believe in NGO transparency, collectivism, participation and clear rules of decision-making process within the organisation.
Beginnings of SPR date back to January 2006, when an informal branch of Campaign Against Homophobia (CAH), a Warsaw-based LGBTQ association, was established in Toruń. People from Toruń have quickly surpassed the initial expectations of CAH and the informal branch became so active, that it virtually put Toruń on the LGBTQ map of Poland. With growing ambition and desire to fight homophobia not only on a local level, in December 2008 CAH Toruń was transformed into an independent and fully-fledged association called The Diversity Workshop (SPR). After five years of activity SPR's accomplishments include:
- QueerFest festivals in Toruń (October 2006, October 2007 and December 2008),
- street actions, e.g. Anti-Homophobic Clinics in Toruń (May 2006, May 2007), in Grudziądz (October 2008) and Włocławek (October 2008) and Day Of Silence rallies (April 2006-2008, May 2009-2010, April 2011),
- an outdoor advert campaigns ("You are not alone", Toruń, December 2007; "Homophobia - Checking it!", Toruń, January 2011),
- public debates with academics, politicians and journalists (e.g. on hate crimes cases and regulations in Poland in May 2011; on language politicians and journalists use talking about LGBTQ persons in May 2008; "Free, different, equal" on situation of LGBTQ persons from a legal, sociological and cultural perspective in May 2006),
- Living Library events (in Toruń in October 2009 and April 2010, in Grudziądz in February 2010 and in Włocławek in October 2010),
- a campaign calling the Prime-Minister Donald Tusk to remove a homophobic Equality Minister (Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Status),
- SPR also co-organized the annual Manifas in Toruń (demos for women's rights).
Since its establishment as an independent LGBTQ association SPR has been active not only locally, but also on the national level. SPR has issued statements regarding almost every homophobic incident involving a politician or public person. SPR is especially active in hunting down defamatory, homophobic statements. Therefore SPR's activities range from participation in court cases (like "Nasza Sprawa 2", a case against the popular "Rzeczpospolita" daily resulting from homophobic publications, or a court case against Stanisław Pięta, member of Polish parliament who compared homosexual people to pedophiles, zoophiles and necrophiles) to verifying the content of school textbooks. From 2008 to 2010 members of SPR have been preparing a draft act of parlament adding hate crimes based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability to the Polish Penal Code. The draft was accepted by all Polish LGBTQ organisations.
Within the framework of LGBTQ round-tables SPR co-operates with other Polish LGBTQ organisations, such as Lambda Bydgoszcz (from the city of Bydgoszcz, Toruń's closest neighbour), Lambda-Warszawa (Warsaw), Campaign Against Homofobia (Warsaw), Open Forum (Warsaw) and Transfuzja Foundation (Warsaw). SPR also participates in the informal Coalition for Equal Chances, established by other anti-discrimination NGO's, and also is a member the Polish network of the Anna Lindh Foundation. In addition, thanks to the twin-city link between Toruń and Leiden (Netherlands), SPR has close ties with its Dutch counterpart - COC Leiden.