Two powerful Polish political figures with opposing views on gay rights have died in a plane crash in Russia, British gay website PinkNews.co.uk
Polish President Lech Alekander Kaczynski and former Deputy Prime Minister Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka are among the 87 people reportedly killed when a Polish Air Force plane crashed while attempting to land near the city of Smolensk in Russia. Polish media is reporting that officials do not expect to find any survivors.
Kaczynski's clashes with Polish gay rights activists gained him international notoriety. As mayor of Warsaw, he repeatedly banned gay pride parades from taking place in the city, citing security concerns and an offense to public morals.
The 60-year-old Kaczynski was elected president in 2005.
"If that kind of approach to sexual life were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear," Kaczynski said in 2007. "Imagine what grand changes would occur in mores if the traditional links between men and women were set aside."
Jaruga-Nowacka, who served as Poland's deputy prime minister between 2004 and 2005, criticized Kaczynski for his anti-gay views.
At one officially banned Gay Pride event, she told the crowd: "We are for democracy. We are for protection of all human rights, not only for some groups who are in the majority in Poland. All citizens have the right to choose their own way of life."
"I am here to express my protest against the mayor's decision [to ban gay parades] which is a violation of the Polish constitution and of civic rights. I am here to show my respect for the Polish tradition of tolerance," she added.
Juruga-Nowacka was widely criticized by social conservatives for her support of gay rights.
The Polish delegation was en route to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. Early reports suggest the plane broke into pieces after getting caught in the tops of trees.