Milicz makes history as smallest town in Poland to host Pride parade

With only 11,000 inhabitants, Milicz made history by becoming the smallest town in Poland where a Pride march was held.

People marching in the Pride march held in a small town in Poland.
Image: Via Twitter - @RobertMaslak

Recent news regarding LGBTQ+ rights coming from Poland hasn’t been very positive, especially since LGBT-free zones started to appear all over the country. However, this event casts a more positive light, as Milicz became the so far smallest town in Poland to host a Pride march.

Milicz, a town of only 11,000 people in Poland, hosted its first-ever Pride parade. On May 22, people took the streets of the small town to celebrate and march for the rights of Polish LGBTQ+ citizens. The event took place amid heavy police presence, something that is very common for Pride marches in the country.

The march was organised by Myślmy, an NGO in Milicz that expected only around 100 people to attend the event. However, according to the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, many more people showed up in support of LGBTQ+ rights, among whom were politicians and activists even from out of town.

The newspaper conducted interviews in the place to assess how locals perceived the event. Some elderly people stated that they had no problem with LGBTQ+ folks and that they “liked the fact the march was colourful”. Unfortunately, there was also one single man who expressed hostility and said “these are not people”.

These words echo a statement by President Andrzej Duda, that in 2020 declared that LGBTQ+ folks were not actually people, but an ideology that was imposed on Poland from Western countries. Such argument is recurring among those who oppose LGBTQ+ rights in Poland, with many local authorities in the country declaring themselves free of “queer ideology”. 

In these so-called ‘LGBT-free zones’, tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community is discouraged by local governments, and organisations promoting their rights are denied funds. The European Union has taken action against Poland, freezing funding to such zones. Earlier in February, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the EU was allowed to freeze funding because of such anti-LGBTQ+ policies, which do not reflect the core values of the Union.

Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk, one of the participants in the parade in Milicz, spoke about how hosting Pride in such a small town in Poland was a historical moment. “Change will not happen in the squares of the largest cities,” she said “We already have Warsaw, Kraków, and Wrocław, where there have been equality marches for years. But here, in Milicz, is a real change for equality, love, and acceptance.”

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