Kielce, a city in Poland, held its first pride celebration recently, but the 1,000 marchers were met with fierce resistance. Some estimate the number of protestors outnumbered the marchers four to one, and protestors were accused of yelling slurs and throwing glass bottles and bags of flour at marchers. The pride march and the protests come on the heels of growing tension in Poland between LGBTQ advocates and a national party promoting an anti-LGBTQ platform.
The Law and Justice Party is pushing an anti-LGBTQ agenda against what they say is Western LGBTQ ideology. Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński said that integrating LGBTQ education into schools was “an attack on the family” and “an attack on children,” and that “LGBT ideology” is a “threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state.”
Regional Law and Justice Officials are now encouraging cities and regions to declare themselves “LGBT-ideology free.” The Independent reports that, so far, more than 30 areas have made such announcements, declaring themselves “LGBT-free.” The declarations don’t have any actual policies attached to them, but activists say there’s no confusion over meaning.
“But the message that it sends is pretty much straightforward,” Vyacheslav Melnyk, director of the local Campaign Against Homophobia, told the Independent. “There is no place for LGBT people in our community.”
The anti-LGBTQ campaign is also being supported by conservative media, with one magazine pledging to include “LGBT-Free Zone” stickers inside its next issue. The stickers feature rainbow stripes behind a black X. The editor, Tomasz Sakiewicz, said of the stickers: “Freedom means that I respect your views and you respect mine. We oppose only the imposition of views by force. Being a gay movement activist does not make anyone more tolerant.”
The U.S. Ambassador to Poland has spoken out against the stickers. “I am disappointed and concerned that some groups use stickers to promote hatred and intolerance. We respect freedom of speech, but we must stand together on the side of values such as diversity and tolerance.”