Polish nationalists and LGBT activists take off in Warsaw

A pro-LGBT protester raises a rainbow flag as Polish nationalists gather to protest what they call “LGBT aggression” on Polish society, in Warsaw, Poland August 16, 2020. Cuba Atys / Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) – Hundreds of Polish nationalists and defenders of LGBT rights clashed on opposite sides of a street in central Warsaw on Sunday.

The nationalists burned a rainbow flag while the LGBT activists painted one on the street. The groups shouted abuse at each other, separated by a line of several police buses and dozens of police officers.

The meeting of the nationalists was organized by a far-right movement All-Poland Youth, whose former leader, Krzysztof Bosak, won almost 7% in the first round of a presidential election in June.

“This is a toxic ideology, dangerous, revolutionary and radical,” Bosak said in a speech during the meeting.

Gay rights are part of the most recent election campaign in Poland, a staunch Catholic country, and the issue is still divided.

President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, won re-election in July. During the campaign, he had compared what he called LGBT “ideology” to communist doctrine, which led to criticism at home and abroad.

Since then, there have been several protests by LGBT activists in Warsaw, including a massive one earlier this month when several thousand people demanded the release of an LGBT activist accused of hanging rainbow banners over statues and damaging a van of the anti-abortion.

Report by Anna Koper and Kacper Pempel; Written by Agnieszka Barteczko; Edited by Frances Kerry

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