LGBT rights have become a central part of a larger struggle in the country between liberals, who stress the need for a more tolerant and inclusive society, and religious conservatives, who denounce what they say is an attempt to subvert traditional values in the predominantly Catholic nation. .
In a sea of rainbow flags, a symbol of the LGBT community, marchers gathered in front of the imposing neo-Gothic Palace of Culture in central Warsaw, as a DJ played dance music from a scene before the start of the march.
“The Equality Parade is a celebration of LGBT people and all those who must stand up for their rights,” said Sylwester Cimochowski, a 22-year-old restaurant worker.
“Homophobia is a huge problem in Poland … there are a lot of people who cannot cope with it, they commit suicide. The situation of LGBT people in Poland is tragic and that is why I am here – for support them. “
Politicians and clergy have been accused of stoking homophobia in Poland.
Some conservatives say they have nothing against homosexuals; they only oppose what they call “LGBT ideology”.
Meanwhile, in Hungary, the nationalist government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, which is allied with the ruling Poland Law and Justice (PiS) party, introduced a new law banning “the display and promotion of homosexuality” among those under 18.
“It is getting more and more difficult (…) but at the same time there is more and more resistance,” said Marta Borkowska, 37-year-old business consultant, referring to the situation of LGBT people in Central Europe and eastern.
When asked what she would say to those opposed to the march, she replied, “I would say ‘don’t be afraid’.”
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