Postcard from Poland

By Tomek Trabuć

Thousands braved threats of violence and social ostracism, and marched through the streets of central Warsaw in an “equality parade” on 19th June 2021, amid a backdrop of rising discrimination against the country’s LGBTQ+ community in Poland. The basis of this annual march are the ideas of freedom, equality and tolerance. Here is a series of photos taken by
Tomek Trabuć, which he hopes will give our readers a better sense of this special day.

‘Polish Grandmothers’ are the unconventional activists; many are also artists, entrepreneurs and caring housewives. What makes them different from a “typical grandmother”? Amazing energy and willingness to change the world for the better! In their protests, fights and banners they see a chance for a better tomorrow. They are fighting not for themselves but for the young generation that is just entering adulthood. They regularly support protests related to ecology, women’s rights, healthcare, education, politics and the LGBTQ+ community.

The annual “equality parade” in Warsaw is the largest event for equal rights, freedom and diversity in Poland. Although inspired by the gay pride marches of Western Europe and the US, here it has a broader appeal and involves more groups. Its premise and foundation are the ideas of freedom, equality and tolerance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade returned this June after the whole one year’s hiatus, after which Poland is a changed country. Twenty four months that brought the world to a halt, taking away lives and health, have also taken away basic freedoms and rights of the Polish women and the LGBTQ+ community.

In 2020, the current president of Poland won his next term in office as a result of an aggressive anti-LGBTQ+ campaign. His slogan, “LGBT are not people; they are an ideology,” shocked the progressive part of the nation, and yet over 100 municipalities, encompassing about a third of the country, have adopted resolutions, which led to them being called “LGBT-free zones.” While these unenforceable and primarily symbolic declarations represent an attempt to stigmatize LGBTQ+ people and as such were strongly condemned by the European Parliament, they continue to prevail leading to the increased risk of persecutions and the general sense of unease and worry amongst the gender and sexuality diverse people in Poland. It is therefore not surprising that, despite the greater than usually significance of this year’s march in Warsaw, one could see little joy on the faces of its participants. In addition, due to pandemic, there were no moving platforms with music and dancers, and all the major corporate sponsors, like Google, Microsoft, MTV, or Unilever withdrew, giving Covid-19 as a reason, although general understanding was that they deviously adapted to the current political situation. Still many braved potential homophobic repercussions and marched to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. This is a little tribute to these people and their courage.

Tomek Trabuć, a corporate communications consultant, works and lives with his husband in Warsaw (Poland). They married six years ago in Glasgow, after almost twenty years of being together. Their marriage is recognized in the most EU countries and the United States and Canada, but Polish law treats them as aliens. There are no plans to introduce civil partnership or marriage for same-sex couples in the country.

UKAGP Newsletter, Summer 2021
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