Thousands march from Poland to Germany to highlight lack of rights for Polish LGBT+ community

Carrying banners and lead by drag queens, demonstrators marched in solidarity with LGBT+ people in Poland.

A group of people carrying LGBT+ banners
Image: Lydia Bigley

In a show of support and an attempt to highlight the issues faced by the LGBT+ community in Poland, over 2,000 people took part in a march which crossed the border with neighbouring Germany.

Since the reelection of President Duda, the situation for LGBT+ people in Poland has become gravely serious with an openly homophobic government trampling on the rights of queer citizens. In a show of symbolism, the march against hate crossed a bridge linking the town of Slubice in Poland with Frankfurt an der Order in Germany.

Waving pro-LGBT+ banners and rainbow flags, the peaceful march passed by police who lined the streets in anticipation of violence. A small group of counter protestors were reported as being present, but things remained largely peaceful.

In an interview with Thomson Reuters Foundation, Mewa Topolska, one of the organisers of the march, shared, “The only way we can change people’s opinions is through visibility. We don’t have full queer rights in Poland – and won’t for a long time so the main (aim) is solidarity with the Polish.”

The intention of the border crossing was to highlight the vastly different situations for LGBT+ people in two neighbouring countries with only a border separating them. While Germany has a high level of human rights for LGBT+ folk, ILGA Europe recently declared Poland the worst country in which to be LGBT+ in the EU.

Spokesperson for ILGA-Europe, Björn van Roozendaal, stated, “The LGBT+ community is being denied the right to exist by the leading political party. LGBT+ people in Poland live in a situation of constant, repressive pressure with no access to justice or State protection.

“In circumstances like these, where marginalised members of society are being attacked from all sides, protest and activism are inevitable, and may even be considered provoked by the government’s failure to protect their fundamental rights and disproportionate law enforcement responses. Let us not forget this is happening in an EU country where the human rights of all citizens are deeply rooted in law.”

At the end of August, Ireland’s Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, addressed the ongoing discrimination against the LGBT+ community in Poland and reaffirmed Ireland’s commitment to LGBT+ rights.

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