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Extremists pelt LGBT people with rocks in attack on Pride march in Poland

Nick Duffy July 22, 2019
Riot police fire tear gas to disperse people, including ultra-nationalists, who attempted to block the first gay pride march on July 20, 2019 in Bialystok, eastern Poland

Riot police fire tear gas to disperse people, including ultra-nationalists, who attempted to block the first pride march on July 20, 2019 in Bialystok, eastern Poland (JERZY BALISKI/AFP/Getty)

25 people have been detained by police in Poland, after a Pride march faced violent attacks from far-right groups.

The first ever Pride event in Biaĺystok, which took place on Saturday (July 20), was set upon by a group of extremists, who pelted the LGBT+ campaigners with rocks, glass bottles and firecrackers.

Several videos posted to social media appeared to show young LGBT+ people being violently assaulted, with the nationalist protesters also stealing and burning a rainbow flag.

The anti-LGBT protesters, many of them dressed in football shirts, chanted “Bialystok free of perverts” and “God, honour and motherland.”

Police arrest 25 people after homophobic attacks on Pride marchers

Police in riot gear were eventually called in to attempt to prevent more violent clashes, firing tear gas fired at the crowd and wrestling protesters to the ground.

25 people were detained following the incident, according to the police.

The clash was condemned by the country’s interior minister Elżbieta Witek, who tweeted: “Police officers ensure everyone is safe, without regard to their values and beliefs. Any person who breaks the law should know they will be held responsible.”

People hold flags and placards during the first gay pride march on July 20, 2019 in Bialystok
People hold flags and placards during the first pride march on July 20, 2019 in Bialystok (JERZY BALISKI/AFP/Getty)

She added: “There is no place for those who break the law and [cause harm] to others. As a result of swift action, 25 people were detained.

“Police continue to review the evidence. Those who commit attacks on other people because of their different views are thugs, and their behaviour deserves to be condemned.”

Anti-LGBT sentiment is rising in Poland

The violent clash in Poland’s tenth-largest city underscores the spread of anti-LGBT extremism in the country, which has seen a vast upswing in homophobic public sentiment over the past few years.

A right-wing Polish news magazine recently announced plans to distribute “LGBT-free zone” stickers to readers, comparing gay people to Nazis as it vowed to fight against the “LGBT ideology.”

The ruling Law and Justice party is also dominated by anti-LGBT views, with party leader Jarosław Kaczyński declaring LGBT+ people a “threat” to the country and an “attack on the family and children.”

Riot police fire tear gas to disperse people, including ultra-nationalists, who attempted to block the pride march
Riot police fire tear gas to disperse people, including ultra-nationalists, who attempted to block the pride march (JERZY BALISKI/AFP/Getty)

In a statement, Polish LGBT+ group Miłość nie wyklucza said: “After yesterday’s events, we send as much love as possible. All of Poland can see how strong the hatred is against us, against our entire community.

“It’s the hatred that LGBT + people experience not only in Bialystok, but also in villages, towns and cities.

“All of Poland can see the clear danger that we face every day.”

The group vowed to fight “for the real equality that LGBT+ people have enjoyed in Western Europe and other countries across the world for many years.”

It added: “Hatred towards LGBT + people in Poland is a normal, everyday, commonplace thing. It is fuelled by cardinals and bishops.

“The ministers, MPs and councillors are feeding it, especially those on the right. Hatred is spreading, and nationalists are not its only spokespersons.”

More: Gay, LGBT, parade, Poland, polish, Pride

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