1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Warsaw: Tens of thousands march for gay rights

June 9, 2019

Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said he wanted the city to remain "open" and "tolerant." The LGBT community in Poland has come under sustained attack in recent months by the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party.

People wave rainbow flags during the Baltic gay pride parade on the streets of Warsaw
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Skarzynski

Tens of thousands of people marched through Warsaw with rainbow flags on Saturday, demanding equal rights for gays and lesbians amid government efforts to discredit the LGBT movement as a threat.

Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski told a crowd of marchers that support for pride marches was commonplace in many European cities and that he wanted the Polish capital to remain "open" and "tolerant."

"Not everyone has to go to the Equality Parade but everyone should respect minority rights," he said.

Trzaskowski thanked diplomats who attended the march from several Western countries, including the United States and Canada.

Read more: Furor over 'rainbow madonna' LGBT activist arrest

City officials said some 47,000 people showed up to the event, the largest gay pride parade in Central and Eastern Europe.

Homosexuals face discrimination in Poland

LGBT community under attack

Poland's right-wing government has rejected calls for recognizing equal rights for same-sex couples as a threat to traditional family values.

The leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has described the LGBT community as a foreign import. Several conservative town councils have designated themselves "LGBT-free."

"There is lots of hate in the public media and by the ruling party, but you also have a growing movement of people realizing we are fighting for our lives," Hubert Sobecki, leader of the Love Does Not Exclude group that supports marriage equality, told The Associated Press.

Read more: Poland's first openly gay mayor creates new party 'Spring'

Inside Europe: Poland's LGBT issue

Newly sworn-in Education Minister Dariusz Piontkowski recently criticized a LGBT rights declaration that Trzaskowski issued as an effort to groom children for pedophiles.

The document commits Warsaw to help gay youth find shelter and incorporate global tolerance and sex education standards into the city's school system.

In neighboring Lithuania, some 10,000 people took part in a pride march in the capital, Vilnius. Several thousand people also attended a similar parade in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.

amp/cmk (dpa, AP)

Every evening, DW sends out a selection of the day's news and features. Sign up here.