The struggle for LGBT equality: Pride meets prejudice in Poland

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07/28/2019

We set off from the Arsenal gallery in a small group of about 20 people, first through Białystok’s Branicki Palace gardens, where a “family picnic” is in full swing, organised by the Law and Justice party local authorities as a contrast to the Pride march. There are bouncy castles, but what there’s most of is military stuff, border guards, some big guns and armoured personnel carriers − it’s a family event, for the kiddies, so let’s have plenty of militarism. We continue along Skłodowska Street towards the square from where the march is meant to start, but some people are running away from there and heading down another street, because marchers are being hit. So we turn into Blues Avenue, then into Suraska Street. Just before the square, we can see gangs of thugs 10 metres ahead of us, attacking people: a large guy in a red balaclava is kicking everyone in sight, including some teenage girls, with the full weight of his body. Some in the crowd run away, but more of the “warriors”, beefy men with angry faces, go for them. We take refuge in a pharmacy. The staff are horrified and there’s a frightened girl of about 10 with her mother (they probably weren’t going to the march). “Do something, Mummy,” she wails, “get me out of here, I’m scared.”

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