People gathered in Warsaw in support of LGBT rights following a pride march turned violent in the Eastern city of Bialystok the previous weekend. (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty)
More than a thousand campaigners gathered in Warsaw yesterday (July 27) to protest against the violent attacks on the first Pride parade in the city of Biaĺystok last weekend (July 20).
Biaĺystok is Poland’s tenth largest city, and its first ever Pride march was set upon by far-right extremists who pelted the LGBT+ campaigners with rocks, glass bottles and firecrackers.
Nationalist protesters also burned a rainbow Pride flag, and footage posted on social media showed young people being violently attacked.
The demonstration against homophobia in Warsaw showed support of the LGBT+ community in Poland and condemned the “intolerance” of the country’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).
One protester in Warsaw, Marta Zawadzka, told Reuters: “The tension is growing and is tied to the politics of the ruling party, which are hateful and intolerant.”
She said these “include blaming LGBT people and painting them as paedophiles and bad people.”
Poland’s ruling party have been making the restriction of LGBT+ rights a major part of their campaign
According to Forbes, PiS have been making the restriction of LGBT+ rights a major part of their campaign for this year’s elections.
Tomasz Basiuk, a lecturer at the Polish Association for American Studies in Warsaw, told the publication: “PiS is looking to set up a new ‘enemy of the people’ by suggesting that LGBT rights is another way that the EU interferes with traditional Polish values, as it allegedly did by imposing immigration quotas.”
Earlier this month, Polish conservative newspaper Gazeta Polska said it would distribute “LGBT-free zone” stickers to readers.
Polish authorities later ordered, after the magazine had already been released, that the stickers not be distributed. According to the BBC, the editor of Gazeta Polska insisted the magazines would remain in shops.
A 15-year-old attendee of the Warsaw demonstration told Reuters: “I am here because of what happened in Biaĺystok and because of the ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers.
“If something is going to change then the government needs to change.”