Polish gay rights symbol attacked

Damian picBy Damian Grabiec

An art work which has become a symbol for gay rights in Poland was the target of an arson attack last week.

The Warsaw Rainbow, which dominates one of the city’s main squares, was set on fire by two men on Thursday morning.

Created by artist Julita Wójcik, and strongly identified with Poland’s LGBTI movement, the Rainbow has already been attacked by arsonists five times.

Polish LGBTI activist and member of the Greens Daniel Michalski told London Journalism Centre: “I’m shocked that the Rainbow has been attacked yet again. It’s incredible that there is so much hate against LGBTI people nowadays in Poland, not helped by the Catholic church and parties, like Law and Justice, which justify and even provoke such behaviour.”

Rainbow in Warsaw on fire pic

The Warsaw Rainbow in flames on Thursday morning

Homophobia and transphobia are big problems in Poland. 77% of young Poles encounter hate speech towards LGBTI on the Internet according to University of Warsaw and The Stefan Batory Foundation studies.

Nonetheless, attitudes towards gay people in Poland are becoming more tolerant. 55% of Poles said they were in favour of civil unions for homosexuals in a 2013 Homo Homini poll.

Some gay Poles however, like Tomasz Marcinkowski, who now lives in the UK, chose to leave their country.

“If the authorities of my country don’t react to aggression against me, I don’t care about this country,” he says the student of biology. “I need a place where I could feel safe and where I can plan the future with my partner.”