The European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA) is the network of European lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Pride organisations
Supporting the Pride movement in Poland
Our Annual General Meeting in 2019 agreed that supporting Pride organisers in Poland should be a strategic priority for EPOA in 2020, given the serious threats and violence they have faced in recent months. This commitment was renewed by the 2020 AGM for our work in 2021.
Thanks to generous support from Copenhagen Pride, Dublin Pride, Pride in London, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, Amsterdam Pride, The Belgian Pride, Norwich Pride, Oslo Pride, Stockholm Pride and West Pride, EPOA funded a conference of activists and organisers that took place in Warsaw in January 2020. Read our news story: Pride movement unites to support LGBTI community ‘under attack’ in Poland
What’s happening in Poland?
In 2019, a number of Prides – or equality marches as they are known – faced attempts to ban their marches through legal action, and others found themselves facing huge counter-demonstrations of far-right and nationalist groups. In Białystok, clashes led to several people including police officers being injured. The following articles give background on the attacks faced by Pride organisers in the last year.
- The struggle for LGBT equality: Pride meets prejudice in Poland – The Guardian
- Gay Pride gets political in Poland – Politico.EU
- Police presence strong at Polish Pride march in wake of violence – Reuters
- Polish ruling party whips up LGBTQ hatred ahead of elections amid ‘gay-free zones’ and Pride march attacks – Telegraph
On several occasions – most recently in Gniezno in April 2019 – we have written to mayors to remind them of the case law in which the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of Baczkowski v Poland that banning a Pride march was a breach of the European Convention.
The ‘weaponising’ of Pride and LGBTI equality by the governing Law & Justice Party is the latest manifestation of a declining situation for LGBTI people in Poland. This is especially disappointing as 2020 is the tenth anniversary of Warsaw hosting EuroPride, an event that we should expect to increase acceptance and understanding. Sadly, we see no prospect of the government or other nationalist groups changing their approach, and this is why we are focusing on Poland in the coming Pride seasons.
What is EPOA doing?
We developed a detailed Action Plan with our Polish colleagues during our conference in January 2020, and we have already re-granted more than €10,000 to organisations in Poland. The Action Plan was put on hold because of the COVID19 pandemic, but we will re-activate as soon as restrictions are lifted and the Pride movement resumes. In summary, during 2021 and beyond our board will be:
- Monitoring the situation, in close contact with our members and activists on the ground in Poland, colleagues in the diplomatic and political communities, and other civil society organisations.
- Supporting our members and activists, by providing strategic and operational advice, opening networks to colleagues in other countries who have faced similar challenges, and regranting money from our Solidarity Fund where appropriate.
- Increasing visibility of the Polish situation at Prides across Europe, by encouraging Prides, Polish diaspora groups and other community groups to use Pride as a platform to raise awareness.
- Attending Prides and equality marches, conferences and other meetings to provide support, advice and guidance.
The most important aspect of our response is in our agility and our ability to respond to a changing landscape and rapidly developing situation. Our members will be kept updated on our activities throughout the coming months.
How can I help?
Every cent that we collect will be regranted to Pride and equality march organisers in Poland, so the biggest need we have is for donations to help us support Polish activists. Whilst our Action Plan is on hold, our commitment is not; as soon as we are able to put our plans into action, we will do so. And your donations will help us to do that.
You can donate using the PayPal button below – you don’t need a PayPal account – or you can email us at [email protected] to discuss a donation.
Get in touch
If you have any questions about our work or want to support this activity, please email [email protected].