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RECORD numbers of gay pride events were held across Poland on Saturday in defiance of growing threats against its LGBT+ community by the ruling conservative government.
Thousands took to the the streets of Warsaw amid a sea of rainbow flags. Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski joined one of the many floats at the parade.
“Not everyone has to go to the Equality Parade but everyone should respect minority rights,” he said, adding: “It’s really important for me that Warsaw be open, [that] Warsaw be tolerant.”
The ruling Law and Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski branded the LGBT+ rights movement a “foreign import” and a threat to families, children and society.
Many town councils in Poland have declared their municipalities “LGBT-free zones” in recent months.
On the eve of the parade far-right journalist Rafal Ziemkiewicz implied that people should commit violence against the LGBT+ community. He tweeted that “one must shoot at LGBT” people.
He tried to cover himself by adding: “Not in the literal sense of course — but these are not people of good will or defenders of anybody’s rights, [the movement is] a new mutation of Bolsheviks and nazis.”
Campaign Against Homophobia spokesman Slava Melnyk warned of the implications of such provocative language.
“His words are read by thousands of people. It’s possible that one of those people will take his word about shooting at LGBT people literally.”
Love Does Not Exclude leader Hubert Sobecki said the situation is “frightening” for young people struggling with their sexual identity.
“There is a lot of hate in the public media and by the ruling party, but you also have a growing movement of people realising we are fighting for our lives,” he said.
“This movement is not about luxury or privilege, it’s about the privilege of staying alive when you’re a teenager. It’s about survival.”
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