Today, the 13rd of January, the first court trial against LGBTI-activists accused of offending religious feelings will be held. The three activists are facing two years in prison. Rémy Bonny spoke to them for his podcast PRIDE.
Last year, the Polish government started a war against sexual and gender minorities. Women and queer people have been scapegoated in an attempt to diminish democracy. Right after the Polish government reformed the judiciary, and many judges were fired and replaced by pro-government judges, the police started investigating LGBTI-activists.
According to the Polish government, LGBTI-activists are offending religious feelings and , therefore, should be arrested. During an uprising in Warsaw, last summer, against these investigations, 48 peaceful activists were brutally arrested by the Polish police. But the investigations against LGBTI-activists already started in 2019.
On the 27th of April, 2019, Anna Prus, Joanna Gzyra-Iskandar and Elżbieta Podlesna protested a homophobic display in front of the chruch of the Polish city Płock by plastering the area with the icon of the Black Madonna adorned with a rainbow halo, symbolising solidarity with the LGBTI community around the world.
The situation was brought into the spotlight when the police raided Elżbieta’s apartment to find the stickers. Elżbieta was taken into custody and transported to Płock to be detained there. Anna and Joanna were also summoned to the Police Station.
The case received support by many human rights organisations around the world, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The activists expressed during PRIDE their disbelief over being investigated for ‘offending religious feelings’. “The rainbow is a symbol of unconditional parental acceptance, love and care.”, Joanna explains.
For Anna, it is clear the indictment against them is politically motivated: “It was part of the European election campaign in 2019. Former interior minister Joachim Brudziński led the case and was also running for the European Parliament.”
“Church and politics in Poland are very closely related.”, Joanna adds.
“Young lifes are at stake”
The war against the LGBTI-community is not innocent, according to the activists.
Anna: ”On the day of the arrest of Elżbieta, a transgender activist jumped from a bridge into to Vistula river. On the one side you have politicians who just want to gain power. On the other side you have people who are young, legally helpless and unprotected. Their lifes are at stake.”
Asking what the European community can do to support them, Joanna answered: “Make noice! But please not only about our case. But support LGBTI-people in all of Poland.”