Poland: thousands turn out for Warsaw Pride march
|The crowd waves rainbow flags at Saturday’s ‘Equality Parade’ in Warsaw. Gay rights have become a flashpoint issue in Poland in recent years
Thousands marched through central Warsaw on Saturday in an “equality parade”, amid what campaigners say has been a rising tide of homophobia in Poland in recent years.
LGBT rights have become a central part of a wider struggle in the country between liberals, who stress the need for a more tolerant and inclusive society, and religious conservatives, who denounce what they say is an attempt to subvert traditional values in the predominantly Catholic nation.
Amid a sea of rainbow flags, marchers gathered outside the towering neo-Gothic Palace of Culture and Science in central Warsaw, as a DJ played dance music from a stage before the start of the march.
“The equality parade is a celebration of LGBT people and all those who have to fight for their rights,” said 22-year-old restaurant worker Sylwester Cimochowski.
“Homophobia is a huge problem in Poland … there are lots of people who can’t cope with it, they kill themselves. The situation of LGBT people in Poland is tragic and that’s why I’m here – to support them.”
Meanwhile, in Hungary Viktor Orbán’s nationalist government, which is allied with Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, has introduced a law banning the “display and promotion of homosexuality” among under-18s.
“It’s getting more and more difficult … but at the same time there is more and more resistance,” said Marta Borkowska, a 37-year-old business consultant, referring to the situation of LGBT people in central and eastern Europe.
Asked what she would say to people who are opposed to the march, she replied: “I would say, ‘don’t be afraid’.”
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