Saturday, September 3 saw two peaceful Pride parades take place in Poland with a collective 5,000 attendees, despite the country’s significant anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and history of counter-protestors disrupting Pride events.
The people of Katowice celebrated their sixth annual Pride event, this year in collaboration and solidarity with the Ukrainian city of Odesa, with an impressive 4,000 attendees flocking to the joyous occasion. Likewise, the city of Lublin saw its fourth Pride event, with a further 1,000 participants celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Both events went ahead peacefully and without disruption in a welcome change for members of the community.
“There is an absolutely huge change compared to previous years,” said one Pride participant in Lublin. “We are extremely happy that our marches have changed our reality.”
Known for its ‘LGBT-free zones’, Poland has historically seen disruptions and violence at Pride celebrations. The country has seen years of counter-protestors lobbing items such as eggs, bottles and even lit flares at the marchers, with a couple arrested in 2019 for bringing explosives to a Pride march.
The conservative group Fundacja Pro, which is both anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion, has been known to protest and disrupt Pride events, with the mayor of Katowice even banning the group from the city’s parade this year to protect “safety and public order”. Although this order was overturned in court, only a few members of Fundacja Pro turned up with anti-LGBTQ+ banners and the march went ahead without intrusion.
Pride parades are “an opportunity for the community to feel safe and comfortable”, according to Przemysław Walas, Katowice Pride organiser, adding that the occasion serves as a reminder to “our city, the region, and all of Poland that we are here, that we will not disappear because someone has a problem accepting that the world is not black and white”.
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