Polish homophobes shamelessly vandalise rainbow benches designed to ‘colour this grey reality’
Rainbow benches in the Polish town of Kielce have been vandalised after widespread opposition to their installation.
Fifteen benches were due to be installed throughout Kielce throughout 2020 as part of a participatory budget, an initiative that gives citizens the opportunity to create projects in the city using state funds.
However, the rainbow design – which organisers said was “dedicated to all citizens” – prompted a fierce backlash, culminating in a spree of vandalism.
Some benches were painted red and gold for the local football team, Korona Kielce, and had the initials ‘CK’ painted onto them. Others had the backs removed or were vandalised with offensive slogans.
On one bench, a vandal wrote: “F**k LGBT… F**k PiS [the ruling Law and Justice party]. F**k police.”
Agata Wojda, a Kielce city councillor, posted photos of the vandalised benches on Facebook. She captioned the photo: “The hooligans’ race to destroy colourful benches has been going on for several days.”
She added: “It is all the more shocking that someone has the audacity to raise a hand on things that have arisen as a result of social consensus.”
An amendment to the participatory budget was introduced in May 2020 by the ruling conservative party in Poland, Law and Justice (PiS).
It specified that projects funded by the budget must be “compatible with the rules of social co-existence and ideologically neutral”, effectively cancelling specifically pro-LGBT+ initiatives.
Chairman of the city council Kamil Suchański tweeted that the benches contradict the amendment because they are not “neutral in terms of worldview”.
Wojda said of the vandalism: “I am very sad because I realised that we are very far from civic maturity, respect for each other and understanding that the city of Kielce is our common cause.
“And you, who do not destroy, but look at it indifferently, look for an excuse for vandals and ‘applaud them’ in the comments, you are not helping at all.”
Speaking in January, after the benches had been installed, the organisers of the project said: “We hope that other cities in Poland will follow in our footsteps and begin to colour this grey Polish reality with rainbow benches.”
2020 has been a difficult year for LGBT+ people in Poland.
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Polish LGBT+ people have had an even harder year than the rest of us, with anti-LGBT+ right-wing president Andrzej Duda presiding over a series of attacks on the community.
Members of European Parliament have spoken out against “a broader context of attacks against the LGBTI community in Poland, which include growing hate speech by public and elected officials and public media, as well as attacks and bans on Pride marches”.
In a charter published ahead of a summer general election, Duda stated he would “prohibit the propagation of this ideology” in public institutions and defend marriage being defined as a “relationship between a woman and a man”.
Almost a third of the county – nearly 100 Polish municipal and local governments – have claimed they are “LGBT-free” zones.