LGBTQ activists overcame a ban and a protest to hold the first Pride parade in Lublin, Poland, on Saturday.
Mayor Krzysztof Zuk had issued a ban on the parade, citing security concerns, but a court struck it down Friday, the Associated Press reports. The parade went on the next day, with more than 1,000 participants, but about 300 right-wing protesters tried to block it, and some of them threw rocks, bottles, or flaming objects. They scattered, though, after police countered them with tear gas, concussion grenades, and water cannons. "The colorful parade then proceeded undisturbed," the AP reports.
Several of the protesters were arrested, and more likely will be, a police spokeswoman told international news source TeleSur. "We provided security for the participants despite the numerous illegal actions of their opponents," spokeswoman Renata Laszczka-Rusek said.
Organizers praised the police's action but expressed frustration with the city's attempt to stop the parade. Poland, heavily Catholic and deeply conservative, is known for hostility to LGBTQ equality and any events promoting it. Pride parades have been held, however, in Warsaw and other large cities.
Przemyslaw Czarnek, the governor of Lublin Province, likely influenced the mayor's ban, according to activists. He had said the parade would promote "pedophilia" and "sexual behavior incompatible with nature," according to TeleSur.
"It is deeply depressing that we keep having to have the same conversations about Poland," Kristine Garina, president of the European Pride Organizers Association, told TeleSur. "Opposition to equality marches in Poland has found its way into European case law on freedom of assembly, and you would think that eight years after Warsaw hosted EuroPride, attitudes would be changing. ... Right-wing and homophobic city officials like Mayor Zuk must realize they cannot stand in the way of LGBTI people's human rights, even when elections are approaching."