Thousands of people have defied repeated homophobic statements from Poland’s bishops and politicians and participated in a peaceful Pride March in the city of Plock, north-west of the capital Warsaw.
Driving the news
The Financial Times reports that more than 2,000 people joined the Pride Parade in Plock on Saturday.
Three weeks ago violence marred a similar event in the conservative eastern city of Bialystok.
Although hundreds of counter-demonstrators gathered this weekend in Plock, shouting abuse and whistling at the Pride marchers, a heavy police presence ensured no serious incidents took place.
“There are as many slogans as there are people, but we want equality in Poland, respect and security”, one unnamed female marcher told Euronews.
Robert Biedron, one of Poland’s first openly LGBT politicians and leader of the progressive Wiosna party, also attended the march.
“We have to be here for freedom”, Biedron said.
“We want to convert [leader of the ruling Law and Justice party Jarosław] Kaczyński and the Catholic Church”.
The Pride March in Plock took place in the midst of a wave of LGBT-phobia in Poland stoked by the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party and the country’s Church.
Just this week the Polish Bishops doubled down on what they see as the “ideological totalitarianism” of the LGBT+ movement.
Though LGBT+ people are due “respect”, that respect cannot lead “to the acceptance of an ideology that aims to revolutionize social customs and interpersonal relationships”, said Archbishop of Poznan Stanislaw Gadecki, the President of the Polish Bishops.
Gadecki was supporting Archbishop of Krakow Marek Jedraszewski, who in a sermon August 1 said Poland was in the grip of a “rainbow plague”.
Cardinal Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka later seconded the sentiments of Gadecki and Jedraszewski.
Why it matters
But despite the show of support in Plock for the LGBT movement, it seems the Polish Bishops still aren’t hearing the demand of Poles for greater respect for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.
The day after the Plock LGBT Pride Parade, the Polish Bishops released on their website another expression of episcopal homophobia, this time from close former collaborator of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski.
In a letter to Archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jedraszewski, Grocholewski said he did not see “anything inappropriate” in the prelate’s August 1 sermon, in which he also compared LGBT rights to communism.
On the contrary, the cardinal said he found the Archbishop of Krakow’s comparison to be “a realistic interpretation of reality” and a responsible defence of “the truth and good and God’s law against the currently imposed ideology”.
But Monika Bujak, a Plock shop-owner who participated in the Pride March Saturday, fired back at the Polish bishops’ attitude.
Referring to the growing homophobia in Poland, Bujak said “[t]his is a situation created by PiS and the Church”.
“They are creating a spiral of hatred for political reasons. This is going to lead to blood in the streets”.