Poland’s capital finally saw a legal Pride parade, but it was marred by a threatening mob of neo-Nazi protestors. Around 2 000 people – locals and international activists – took part in the parade, which was given permission following considerable pressure on the city authorities to do so.
The marchers however had to be protected by riot police, who ensured that a group of around 1 000 skinheads and right wing protesters couldn’t get to the participants. There was no violence, but a few eggs were hurled at the marchers.
The event, complete with obligatory drag queens, was described as festive. Blaring music and rainbow flags were the order of the day.
Attempts to legally hold a Pride march in 2003 and 2004 were unsuccessful after the city’s then mayor, Lech Kaczynski, refused to grant permission. Kaczynski is now president of the largely Catholic Poland, and has been accused of extending his homophobic agenda into the presidency.
Poland’s government has been slammed by human rights activists and the European Parliament for its discriminatory practices against gays. The European Parliament passed a resolution on January 18 condemning homophobia in Europe, citing the “banning of gay Pride or equality marches” by Poland as one of the “worrying events” that prompted the resolution.
Poland was also warned by the European Commission in October 2005 that it could lose its voting rights if it continued to oppose gay rights.