Poland's Anti-LGBTQ Attitudes, Arrests Spark Mass Protests In Warsaw

The demonstrations over the weekend came followed the re-election of President Andrzej Duda, who campaigned on a strong anti-LGBTQ platform.

WARSAW, Poland (AP) 鈥 Demonstrators turned out in Warsaw and other Polish cities Saturday to protest anti-LGBT attitudes promoted by the government as well as the detention of pro-LGBT protesters.

鈥淵ou will not lock all of us up!鈥 people chanted at a protest in Warsaw that drew thousands of mostly young people. Most wore masks for the coronavirus pandemic. Similar protests took place in Krakow, Lublin, Wroclaw and other places.

The protests came a day after LGBT rights supporters in Warsaw scuffled with police who arrested a transgender activist, Malgorzata Szutowicz, known best as 鈥淢argot.鈥 Police said they detained 48 people, while activists said police used rough tactics against them.

鈥淭he police were aggressively pushing the protesters out of the way, knocking people to the ground and holding them down with their boots,鈥 the group said.

The protests come amid an intensifying standoff in Poland between the LGBT rights movement and the conservative government, which has declared it an alien, dangerous 鈥渋deology.鈥 President Andrzej Duda, who was sworn in for a second term Thursday, won re-election on a strong anti-LGBT platform, and social tensions have been rising.

Some critics accuse the government of stoking tensions in order to channel attention and anger away from what they say are plans to further erode the rule of law under the populist governing party. Last week the Justice Ministry said it is preparing legislation that would require non-governmental groups to declare any foreign funding sources, echoing laws passed in Russia and Hungary that critics say are meant to hamstring groups critical of authorities.

Szutowicz was put in pre-trial detention for two months for acts of civil disobedience, including using a knife to cut the tires of a van that drives around broadcasting anti-LGBT messages, including a claim that 鈥渉omosexuals are preparing society to accept pedophilia.鈥

Police allege she also used violence against the driver of the van, shaking and pushing him.

She belongs to a group called Stop Bzdurom (Stop the Nonsense), which has been putting rainbow flags and anarchist symbols on Warsaw statues, including one of Jesus, infuriating the conservative government.

Some others sympathetic to the LGBT movement also say the stunt with the statues was offensive and counter-productive. Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, Duda鈥檚 challenger in the recent presidential election, called it 鈥渁n unnecessary provocation.鈥

Those defending her say the legal measures being used against her 鈥 as well as the detentions of others Friday night 鈥 are disproportionate. Lawyers have not had contact with her, her defense lawyer said.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro defended the police behavior as appropriate. He accused opposition politicians who are defending the LGBT protesters of supporting 鈥渂anditry.鈥

鈥淧erhaps the knife that was used to destroy the van back then will be used for a bigger crime next time,鈥 Ziobro said. 鈥淭here can be no license for this type of attack ... we have to agree with this and stand together against criminals.鈥

Dunja Mijatovic, the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, the continent鈥檚 top human rights body, called Saturday for her immediate release.

鈥淥rder to detain her for 2 months sends very chilling signal for #FreedomOfSpeech & #LGBT rights in #Poland,鈥 Mijatovic tweeted.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot