Poland and Romania, countries not known for LGBT acceptance, saw thousands turn out for Pride festivities this weekend, with participants encouraged by a recent European Union court ruling that ordered recognition of the rights of same-sex couples.
“A party-like atmosphere prevailed at the parade in Warsaw as people waved rainbow flags and danced. Some had signs and T-shirts with messages of tolerance or sass, including one of Russian President Vladimir Putin holding a rainbow,” the Associated Press reports.
“The worse the political atmosphere, the better the atmosphere at the parade,” participant Michal Niepielski told the news service at Saturday’s parade.
Thousands also celebrated Saturday in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. One of the attendees, Emil Rengle, said he wanted opponents of same-sex relaionships to know “We love differently because God created us differently,” the AP reports.
This week, Melchior Wathelet, the advocate general of the European Court in Luxembourg, issued an opinion that Romania and all member states of the E.U. must recognize residency and other rights of same-sex spouses, whether or not they allow same-sex marriages. The opinion came about after Romanian officials refused to grant residency to Claibourn Hamilton, an American who married his Romanian partner, Adrian Coman, in Brussels in 2010.
Most E.U. nations allow same-sex marriages or civil unions, but Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Latvia do not.
But LGBT people in these countries appear energized. A record 12 Pride marches are scheduled in Poland this year, and the number includes five cities holding them for the first time.
“People are fed up with feeling like they are under a boot and being trampled down,” Hubert Sobecki, president of Love Does Not Exclude, a group working for marriage equality in Poland, told the AP. “And they are reacting, they are organizing, they are resisting.”