Police Protect–Yes, Protect–Lublin’s First Ever Pride Parade From Far Right Violence

By Brian Oaster

We’re used to hearing reports about police assaulting protestors, but have you ever heard of police using tear gas and water cannons against right wing protesters?

Before you get too excited—it wasn’t here in America.

The Polish city of Lublin celebrated its first ever pride parade on Saturday, and the homophobes were hopping mad. About three hundred violent right wing extremists showed up to block the parade, but instead ended up throwing rocks at their brethren the police, who—astonishingly—protected some 1,000 non-militant-right-wing, not-hateful free people full of love as they marched in solidarity for queer, gay and trans rights.

Perhaps Polish police don’t moonlight as Proud Boys in their off hours, something equally incomprehensible to us Americans, who often can’t tell the PBs from the PD at marches and protests.

Lublin’s parade almost didn’t happen. Poland is a heavily Catholic country under rule of an anti-gay conservative government. Regional Governor Przemysław Czarnek complained the parade would promote “pedophilia” and “sexual behavior incompatible with nature.” Mayor Krzysztof Zuk (who simply MUST share a name with a drag king somewhere) tried to ban the parade for “security concerns.”

“You would think that eight years after Warsaw hosted EuroPride, attitudes would be changing,” said President of the European Pride Organizers Association Kristine Garina. She called it “deeply depressing” to have to keep having “the same conversations about Poland.”

But the Lublin Court of Appeals vetoed Mayor Krzysztof Zuk’s ban, and Poland nevertheless remains a place where police are willing to tear gas right wing terrorists—more than can be said for some countries—so the show went on!

In fact, the parade proceeded totally undisturbed, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, violent right wing extremists who launched bottles, bricks, and flames at attendees, actually went to jail!

“We have arrested several people but I am sure that number will increase,” said Renata Laszczka-Rusek, spokeswoman for the Lublin police. “During the gathering, we provided security for the participants despite the numerous illegal actions of their opponents.”

Warsaw, the nation’s capital and largest city, saw its first pride parade (or Parada Równości, ‘Equality Parade’) in 2001. Lublin, a city slightly smaller than Tampa, is Poland’s ninth most populous urban center, sitting between the capital and the southeastern border with Ukraine.

It’s an inspiring example of courage shown by LGBTQ advocates who marched the streets of Lublin in the face of such violent threats and open hostility. So good on them, and thank you (I can’t believe I’m saying this) to the police. Luv is Lublin.

Brian Oaster

Brian is a Choctaw writer in the Pacific Northwest.