Three activists accused of hanging rainbow flags on statues in Poland have been arrested and charged.
Rainbow flags and face masks were placed on statues of Jesus, the astronomer Copernicus, and a mermaid. The mermaid is an emblem of the city of Warsaw and can be found on the city’s coat of arms.
Polish police charged the accused with desecrating monuments and offending religious feelings – a crime in Poland punishable by a fine or up to two years in prison.
The activists said they were part of demonstrations protesting the homophobic ideology of the current government. Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki rebuked the activists and went on to say that the statues are important symbols for millions of Polish people. It is now up to prosecutors to decide whether to bring the case to court.
Anti-LGBT+ sentiment has been growing in the country and is fueled by the current government, the Law and Justice Party (PiS). The incumbent President, Andrzej Duda, was sworn in for his second term last week.
Duda narrowly won the election and anti-LGBT+ rhetoric was a central part of his campaign. Duda proposed a ban on same-sex marriage and adoption, as well as saying: “LGBT is not people, it’s an ideology.”
Following his re-election, many LGBT+ people have considered leaving the country. Piotr Grabarczyk and his boyfriend Kamil Pawlik told the Associate Press that they did just that.
Grabarczyk and his boyfriend decided to move to Barcelona after much consideration. It’s been a move five years in the making according to the couple, who said they first started to fear PiS’s anti-LGBT+ agenda when they got into power five years ago. “Like where’s the line? Is there a line they are not going to cross? I don’t know,” Grabarczyk said.
According to the prominent Polish LGBT+ activist Bart Staszewki, there will be second wave of emigration from Poland following the first one that occurred when the country joined the EU in 2004.
“This time, people are not looking for better paid jobs, but they are looking for dignity and respect,” he said. “People want to feel that they are protected by the government and not treated as an enemy.”
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