Gay rights activists in Poland vow to defy parade ban
May 28 2004 12:00 AM ET
Gay rights activists in Poland vowed Thursday to defy a ban on a parade that Warsaw officials imposed in hopes of preventing clashes between participants and a group opposed to gay rights. Warsaw mayor Lech Kaczynski on Monday ordered organizers to cancel the fourth annual Parade of Equality, planned for June 11, citing plans by a youth organization to hold a counterdemonstration at the same time. The mayor said he wanted to prevent attacks on the gay rights activists.
But Szymon Niemiec, the head of Poland's Gay and Lesbian Association, denounced Kaczynski's decision as a violation of the constitutional right to free expression and said his group would hold its parade as planned. "It turns out that this country isn't democratic even though it recently joined the European Union," Niemiec said.
He said his group has sent a letter to provincial authorities asking them to overrule the ban.
Earlier this month, hundreds of gay rights activists were attacked with stones, eggs, and firecrackers during a march in the southern city of Krakow by counterdemonstrators. Police officers fired tear gas and shot rubber bullets into the air to keep the two sides apart.