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Diversity day Gays and lesbians in Poland: life in constant stress

Holding your girlfriend's hand as a matter of course, being who you want, loving who you want. For many Poles, the so-called equality parades are one day of the year when they can be themselves. 23 such parades took place in various Polish cities in 2019.

This year, however, many Prides have already been canceled or postponed indefinitely, because there is also a strict ban on major events in Poland due to the corona pandemic. It was a bitter blow for the organizers of the Prides, because the street parades are often the only way to make people aware of the LGBT scene, even in small towns far away from the big cities with trendy culture. "We want to remain visible even in these times," says the activist Cecylia Jakubczak from the organization "Campaign Against Homophobia" (Kampagna Przeciw Homofobii). For this reason, the protest for more equality is taking place online this year.

Internet-Challenge "I'm marching because ..."

The anti-homophobia campaign "Marszeruję, bo ..." (I march because ...) is simple: upload a photo or video of any march or equality parade to social media and the sentence "I march because ..." to complete. Then two people are marked and nominated for the challenge. If you have never taken part in a march, simply upload a photo with a rainbow flag, for example.

The organizers are satisfied with the prevalence so far in social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. "A few thousand have already participated," says Cecylia Jakubczak. In addition, there are hardly any hateful comments among the posts, although the LGBTQ scene in Poland is usually the target of internet hatred. A right-wing group tried to infiltrate the hashtag #marszerujemy, which was part of the campaign, with homophobic posts, but in vain.

Internet campaign does not replace street protests

The internet campaign is well received and yet the aim of the organizers is to organize Prides on the street as soon as possible. "It is difficult for people from the LGBT scene, we are not on an equal footing in Poland - legally and socially. That is why it is elementary for us that we are seen. The parades are important to show that we exist." Internet protest does not replace Prides. Because you meet a Ms. Kowalski on the street, but not in your own timeline on Facebook. The internet march is therefore more intended to strengthen LGBT pride and solidarity in Polish society, as well as to directly influence politicians and interest the media.

Traditional family picture

The ruling PiS party in Poland advocates the traditional family image, consisting of father, mother and child, and is supported by the Catholic Church. Marek Jędraszewski, the Archbishop of Kraków, speaks of a "rainbow plague". Poland has made international headlines in recent months because so-called LGBT-free zones are being set up. Several regional parliaments, district assemblies and magistrates under PiS leadership had passed resolutions against "gay propaganda". In the ranking of the international umbrella association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex organizations (ILGA), Poland has now slipped to the last place within the EU.

Corona makes life difficult for young people from the LGBT scene

Schools, universities and youth clubs are also currently closed in Poland. A study by the organization led by Cecylia Jakubczek found that only 25 percent of Polish mothers and 12 percent of fathers in the country accept the sexual orientation of their child if it does not correspond to the heterosexual norm. "Because of Corona, young people don't have a break from home, they don't go to school, they can't meet friends. It's a difficult time for many." More young people than usual are currently using the organization's psychological counseling. "There is now more verbal and physical violence in families," says Jakubczak.

The abbreviation LGBT (or LGBTQ or LGTBQ +) stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, queer, intersexual and asexual people. It comes from English (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer). The abbreviations are intended to summarize all types of sexuality that deviate from what is known as heteronormativity.