2 September 2018
Two minutes – this is all it took to destroy a Pride stand during a Sunday street fair in Szczecin, Poland. The video showing the perpetrators in action is circulating on social media. Police are looking for perpetrators.
Photo: Lambda Szczecin
The stand, decorated with Pride flags and rainbow umbrellas, formed part of a Sunday street fest in the centre of Szczecin, North-West Poland, near the border with Germany. The fest was co-organized by the Equality on Waves association and the local LGBT group Lambda Szczecin. “There will be healthy cakes, salads, books, games, photo exhibition and other attractions,” wrote the group on its Facebook page on Sunday morning.
See pictures from the fest: https://gs24.pl/zabawa-na-ul-rayskiego-w-szczecinie-ta-ulica-znowu-ozyla-zdjecia/ga/13459980/zd/30912951
The event went peacefully until about 2 pm, a group of about five people showed up and started to tear down rainbow decorations. In just two minutes they managed to scare off people and destroy Pride-themed decorations. Pictures of rainbow umbrellas along with a video showing perpetrators in action circulate on social media.
See the video of perpetrators destroying rainbow decorations: https://web.facebook.com/artykulosiemnasty/videos/244879336368822/
The video shows a group of young men, dressed in sports clothes, kicking rainbow umbrellas scattered on the street. One of the men has put on a hood, but most other don’t bother hiding their faces. The Facebook page Artykuł Osiemnasty (Article 18, for the provision of the Polish constitution which states that Poland protects marriage as a union between a man and a woman), which shared the video, called on to its followers to help identify perpetrators. “Let’s not let them get away with it!,” says the post.
The attackers were described by the fest organizers as “football hooligans,” but a comment on the internet suggested they may have been members of the extreme-right wing National Radical Camp, (ONR), known for its anti-LGBT rhetoric.
The attack was reported to the police and the investigation is ongoing. If found, the perpetrators will face minor charges, because the law in Poland does not recognize anti-LGBT hate crimes. “If offenders are caught, they will most likely face charges for hooliganism,” explained Dr Piotr Godzisz, hate crime officer from Lambda Warsaw. “Most likely, there will not be a penalty top-up for the homophobic motivation”.
The number of reported anti-LGBT hate crimes in Poland is among the lowest in the European Union, but the scale of LGBT victimization is high. “To report, LGBT people need safe spaces and they need to be convinced that they will be treated seriously and with respect,” said Godzisz. To help LGBT victims, Lambda Warsaw is currently fundraising for a series of training events for victim support service providers. You can donate here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/285352795600832/
Despite the attack, participants described the event online as „super”.
Szczecin will be hosting its first LGBT Pride Festival in 15 September. The organizers hope that the event will help to improve LGBT acceptance in the town. They write on the event’s Facebook page: “We believe that everyone is different, but everyone is equal. We believe in love above all else. If you share this faith, help us change the world for the better.”