Residents on the border of Germany and Poland, led by drag queens completely made up, marched in a demonstration of solidarity with Poland’s LGBTQ+ community. An estimated 2,000 participants demonstrated across the River Order, which separates Frankfurt an der Order from the Polish town of Slubice — effectively acting as the border between the two nations.
Police lined the streets as the demonstrators marched to the bridge in case of possible violence. However, the march was peaceful; it acted as a large, solidarity Pride march for the people of Poland who are otherwise denied the opportunity to be out and proud. The group did walk past a counter-protest with roughly 20 demonstrators, though the Pride march easily drowned it out.
“The only way we can change people opinions is through visibility,” Mewa Topolska, one of the organizers of the Pride march, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We don’t have full queer rights in Poland – and won’t for a long time so the main [aim of the march] is solidarity with the Polish side.”
Poland is currently being ruled by homophobic president Andrezej Duda, who was re-elected for a second term in July. Since being in office, Duda has actively fought for anti-LGBTQ+ policies, such as his “family card” that promises to outlaw marriage equality and prohibit child adoption or fostering by LGBTQ+ families. Nearly a third of Polish towns have also declared themselves LGBTQ-free zones under Duda’s rule, leading to many losing funding from the European Union and more protests after the arrest of an LGBTQ+ activist in early August. Slubice has not declared itself an LGBT-free city, and the march made clear that the town — which used to be joined with Frankfurt an der Order until World War II — supports its queer residents.
“There’s far more tolerance in Germany than in Poland,” Ed Lada, a participant in the march told Reuters. “I don’t think too many minds will be changed. But even if it’s one or two, that’s a change.”