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Poland LGBTQ community fights for their rights ahead of polls

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Polish LGBTQ community

Poland LGBTQ community fights for their rights ahead of polls

The Poland LGBTQ community is pushing back against the conservative ruling party in their country who want to make LGBTQ rights an issue in the coming parliamentary elections this October.

Days after holding their first Pride march, more than a thousand people marched in Warsaw in support of LGBTQ rights even as Polish Twitter burst forth with support for the community.

Pride march in Bialystok marred by violence

While the LGBTQ community in Poland had set up a number of Pride marches all across the country, Polish conservatives struck at the Pride march in the city of Bialystok.

Around a thousand Pride marchers had to be ringed by riot police as supporters of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) held a counter-protest against them.

These counter-protestors– composed of nationalist football “ultra” fans, far-right groups, and others– hurled flash bombs, rocks, and glass bottles at the Pride marchers.

The city is a known stronghold of PiS and is located in the conservative region of Podlasie. Polish politicians, including Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, condemned the attacks

“Many of the acts of xenophobic aggression have been committed in Podlasie compared to other regions in Poland,” Rafal Pankowski of the anti-extremism group Never Again, told CNN.

PiS is reportedly using the LGBTQ community to whip up their mainly rural base. They’re currently targeting minority groups, the environment, abortion, and migration in their campaign.

Poland LGBTQ community faces off against PiS

Since then, the LGBTQ community have been letting their voices be heard even as PiS politicians accused them of being “pedophiles and bad people.”

Around a thousand people recently marched in Warsaw for LGBTQ rights while Twitter users expressed their support through the #jestemLGBT campaign.

This campaign, “I am LGBT”, was launched by Twitter users to fight discrimination and homophobia.

Janusz Szewczak, a PiS lawmaker, told Reuters: “We’re against the affirmation of LGBT ideology and the aggressiveness of this ideology which attacks our basic national and Catholic family values.”

The European Commission has expressed its support for the campaign with its Twitter account stating: “#JestemLGBT! We support LGBTI rights in Poland, in all EU countries and worldwide #EU4LGBTI!”

Poland LGBTQ community, censorship, and LGBTQ-free areas

Meanwhile, a Warsaw court halted the distribution of “LGBT-free zone” stickers by Gazeta Polska, a Polish conservative magazine aligned with PiS, in their publication.

The order came after a case was filed by LGBTQ rights activist and Equality March co-founder Bart Staszewski.

Tomasz Sakiewicz, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, said that this court order was “largest act of censorship in the history of the Third Polish Republic.”

Because of this, entire towns have also started declaring themselves as “LGBTQ-free” areas as well.

A opinion poll conducted by state pollster CBOS last April reported that almost a quarter of Polish citizens think that homosexuality is not normal and should be accepted.

However, 54% of those surveyed said the LGBTQ community should be tolerated.

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