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Poland: Police arrest dozens of pro-LGBT protesters

August 8, 2020

Dozens of protesters were arrested after trying to stop the detention of an LGBT+ activist who draped rainbow flags over statues in Warsaw. Polish authorities have described LGBT+ rights as an "invasive ideology."

A protester mounts a car in Warsaw
Image: Reuters/Agencja Gazeta/A. Stepien

Police in Poland said Saturday they detained 48 people who were defending an LGBT+ activist in Warsaw on Friday night. The activist was accused of hanging LGBT+ flags over statues in Warsaw and damaging a car.

"Due to yesterday's active gathering, 48 people were detained," the Warsaw police force said on Twitter.

Crowds at a statue in Warsaw
Police say the protesters draped flags over statues in WarsawImage: Reuters/Agencja Gazeta/A. Stepien

Crowds surrounded and climbed on a vehicle in the center of the capital to try to stop the activist from being driven away. Members of the anti-homophobia group "Stop Bzdurom" said they hung flags on statues of Jesus and other figures, Reuters news agency reported.

Earlier in the week, the group tweeted "We're doing great! Thank you for great support and solidarity," referring to earlier waves of arrests and detentions as Polish authorities cracked down on the LGBT+ community.

Read more: Opinion: Duda's reelection in Poland will deepen divisions

'An invasive ideology'

President Andrzej Duda— a close ally of the populist Law and Justice party who was recently re-elected for a second term — has described LGBT+ rights as an invasive foreign ideology that undermines Polish values.

Poland's socially conservative government has often clashed with the EU over the rule of law and human rights, most recently as several cities and regions declared themselves "LGBT-free zones." The EU in July refused grants to the Polish towns accused of discrimination, after pressure from activists.

Several opposition members of the Polish parliament wore rainbow colors to Duda's swearing-in ceremony earlier this week as a mark of solidarity for LGBT+ people facing oppression in the country.

Oppositions members of parliament don rainbow colors in Poland
Opposition members of parliament don rainbow colors in Poland to support LGBT+ human rightsImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Sokolowski

"We wanted to remind President Andrzej Duda that in the constitution there is a guarantee of equality for all," Left MP Anna Maria Zukowska said.

A police spokesperson Friday claimed the arrests were not related to the rainbow flags draped on the statue but to "another incident."

"There was damaged property, damage to health and an illegal gathering," Warsaw police spokesman Sylwester Marczak said.

Kommentarbild PROVISORISCH Elliot Douglas
Elliot Douglas Elliot Douglas is a video, audio and online journalist based in Berlin.
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