© Reuters. Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community take part in the Tri-City Equality Walk in Gdansk, Poland, May 28, 2022. Martyna Niecko/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via Reuters
Written by Isabella Ronca and Heidi Plosev
Gdansk, Poland (Reuters) – Thousands of Poles demonstrated on Saturday to demand an end to homophobia in the northern port city of Gdansk, which organized its seventh annual equality march under the slogan “We have the power.”
Waving the rainbow flags of the LGBTQ+ community and the blue, pink, and white transgender flag, protesters made their way through the city carrying signs with slogans such as “We make love, not war” and “Jesus walks with us.”
According to a police spokeswoman, about 7,500 people participated.
“Being gay in Poland is very difficult, so it’s good to find a place where you can be yourself,” said 24-year-old Sabina Gwik.
Gay rights are a divisive issue in Catholic-majority Poland, and the country’s ruling nationalists have made the fight against what they call LGBT “ideology” a central issue in election campaigns in recent years.
Religious conservatives are bitter against what they describe as an ideology aimed at undermining the traditional family, while more liberal Poles say such attitudes lead to widespread discrimination.
A group of protesters resisting the march looked up holding Catholic rosaries and a sign claiming that the LGBTQ+ “lobby” was trying to have pedophilia.
“I’m not against homosexuals, they’re just regular people like us,” said one protester, who gave her name as Margaret. “But I don’t want them to reach our children.”
Human rights groups have denied allegations that LGBT education in schools aims to have sex with children.
For Nikodem Mrozek, the 40-year-old mathematician who has participated in the annual march since its inception, attitudes toward LGBT people in Poland are improving, but the community is still demonized by some politicians.
“Society and the mentality of (the people) is getting better, but the political situation is getting worse,” he said before the rally.