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Polish protesters condemn anti-LGBT attack

Timothy Jones
July 28, 2019

Left-wing parties have held a rally in the Polish city of Bialystok against homophobia. An LGBT rights march in the city last week came under attack from far-right groups.

Gay pride march in Bialystok
Image: Reuters/A. Sadowska

Polish opposition left-wing parties staged a rally in Bialystok on Sunday to condemn last week's homophobic attacks on the eastern city's first gay pride march (top photo).

Left-wing leaders at the rally accused the country's right-wing ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party of doing little to fight, and even of fostering, homophobic attitudes in Poland. 

Sunday's rally in Bialystok was attended by hundreds of people, many of them waving rainbow flags or the flag of the European Union. On Saturday, similar demonstrations were held in the capital, Warsaw, and other cities around Poland.

Although the government condemned the attacks at the Bialystok march on July 20, some local ruling party activists were seen among the attackers.

Read more: Surviving 'conversion therapy' for LGBTQ+ people in Germany  

Police pursuing far-right protester amid smoke
Far-right protesters clashed with police at last week's pride march in BialystokImage: Reuters/A. Sadowska

A 'foreign import'

The government has rejected calls for recognizing equal rights for same-sex couples as a threat to traditional family values.

The leader of the PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has even described the LGBT community as a foreign import, while several conservative town councils have designated themselves "LGBT-free."

Many church leaders in the heavily Catholic country have also spoken out against LGBT rights.

Society in Poland, where more than 80% of the population identifies as Catholic, has long been dominated by a conservative attitude to LGBT issues. But a recent opinion poll showed indications of an increasing acceptance of the LGBT community, with, for example, 41% now backing same-sex marriages as against 20% nine years ago.

Read more: Homophobia in Poland still deeply entrenched

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