On 29 October, the Polish parliament voted to send a bill which proposes to amend the right to freedom of assembly to ban Pride marches and other events promoting LGBTIQ equality for further work in committees. The draft bill stipulates that any event which questions marriage as a relationship between a woman and a man or propagates the extension of marriage to persons of the same sex can not go ahead.
The proposal came from a conservative anti-LGBTIQ and anti-abortion group Life and Family Foundation which collected over 140,000 signatures in support of the draft bill. At committee stage the legality of the proposed bill will be assessed.
Pride events, locally known as Equality Marches, have taken place in Poland in growing numbers since 2000. In 2019 the Equality March in Warsaw was attended by 50,000 people, and a record 20 Pride events took place around the country.
The proposal to ban Prides comes as part of a growing attack on LGBTIQ equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights, which has been on the rise since the Law and Justice party came to power. Between mid-2019 and mid-2020, about 100 municipal and provincial areas in Poland declared themselves to be “LGBT-free zones”. Several Pride events across the country have faced attacks, and administrative barriers. Rainbow Friday events supporting LGBTIQ youth in schools have also faced backlash and attack.
Maria Sjodin, Acting Director of OutRight Action International, comments:
“This is a very dark day in Poland, not only for LGBTIQ people, but for Polish society as a whole. Prides are a crucial element of the movement for LGBTIQ equality, and, moreover, they are an expression of the right to freedom of assembly and expression. As such, Prides serve as a litmus test – whether or not a state allows and protects a marginalized, often discriminated community to hold an event such as Pride, is indicative of the health of their democracy. Poland is failing that test today. We call on the relevant Parliamentary committee to reject the proposed bill in its entirety.”
As shown by a recent briefing on Pride Around the World issued by OutRight Action international, Pride events take place in 102 countries around the world. However, even in places with a history of Pride events, they are facing an increasing backlash.