The Polish city of Lublin held its first Pride parade Saturday amidst threats and obstructions. The parade saw an estimated 1,500 participants. About 200 counter-demonstrators showed up to disrupt the celebrations by throwing bottles, bricks, stones and lighting flames at attendees.
The police tried to ban the anti-LGBT demonstrators from the area but they refused to move despite the police using tear gas and water cannons to keep them away from the march.
“We have arrested several people but I am sure that number will increase,” the Lublin police spokeswoman Renata Laszczka-Rusek said. “During the gathering, we provided security for the participants despite the numerous illegal actions of their opponents.”
The actions of the police were praised by the march’s participants for providing them with sufficient security. The Mayor of Lublin, Krzysztof Zuk, announced earlier last week that the march was banned due to security concerns.
It was believed that regional governor Przemysław Czarnek, who is a member of the anti-LGBT Law and Justice party, heavily influenced the decision. Czarnek claimed that the march would promote “pedophilia” and “sexual behavior [that is] incompatible with nature.”
“It is deeply depressing that we keep having to have the same conversations about Poland," president of the European Pride Organizers Association Kristine Garina said addressing the ban.
“Opposition to equality marches in Poland has found its way into European case law on freedom of assembly, and you would think that eight years after Warsaw hosted EuroPride, attitudes would be changing. … The Equality March this weekend must be allowed to go ahead. Right-wing and homophobic city officials like Mayor Zuk must realize they cannot stand in the way of LGBTI people’s human rights, even when elections are approaching.”
Poland’s Court of Appeals overruled the ban Friday, a day before the march citing freedom of assembly laws. Lublin is not the first Pride event in Poland to experience threats and obstruction by the authorities and anti-LGBT people.
In September, a Pride display was destroyed at a street fair in the north-western town of Szczecin. In August, the country’s defense minister referred to a Pride march in the western city of Poznan as a ‘parade of the sodomites‘.