CZESTOCHOWA, Poland (AP) — Parades for LGBT rights took place under heavy police presence Saturday at the foot of Catholic Poland’s most revered monastery in Czestochowa, in the south, and in Gdansk, on the Baltic coast.
The massive police presence, which included officers on horseback, was seen as the factor that prevented any clashes with far-right groups, which shouted anti-LGBT slogans like “No Homosexual Love” at the marchers.
There had been previous cases of violence by far-right groups against Equality Parades in Poland, especially in Czestochowa, at the foot of Catholic Poland’s most revered 15th-century Jasna Gora Monastery.
The far-right groups have support from Poland’s right-wing, nationalist government, which stresses the nation’s historic attachment to traditional Catholic values.
Czestochowa’s 3rd Equality Parade was undisturbed Saturday even though far-right activists came from other cities to show their opposition to it.
“This is a clear provocation, because LGBT circles have always been anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, you can even say. So their march in this direction, into the heart of the Polish nation, into the heart of Polish Catholicism, is an open provocation,” Bartlomiej Czuchnowski, the 26-year-old head of a regional far-right youth organization in Opole, southwestern Poland, told The Associated Press.
A LGBT activist from Czestochowa, Monika Radecka, said each time she sees growing support for the human rights marches but added “still there is a large group that does not support them.”
“Whatever we, LGBT people, do is interpreted as a provocation,” Radecka told the AP.
The march in Gdansk was attended by the city’s mayor, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, and by the ambassadors of some European Union countries.