Anna Skupinska, University of Gdansk
In early August, Margot, a nonbinary Stop Bzdurom (Stop Nonsense) activist, was to be arrested as accused of causing damage to a truck covered with and projecting from loudspeakers a series of anti-LGBT slurs. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Campaign Against Homophobia offices in Warsaw, an LGBT+ rights group, to protest against this arrest.
The decision of the prosecutor’s office of arresting Margot for two months met with a wave of critique and opposition. Such actions were perceived by many as suppression and another stage in the hate campaign against the LGBT+ community in Poland. The day when Margot was to be arrested, the protest in Warsaw met with a radical reaction of the police. As a result of the raid, about 50 people were arrested, humiliated at the police stations, and repeatedly denied contact with a lawyer.
A nation often associated with social movements such as Solidarity and rebelling against any regime in its rich history of fighting for freedom and liberation. One could think that after everything we have experienced throughout our history, we would be more sensitive towards issues such as dehumanisation, humiliation, or contempt. Yet, many say that society seems to be resilient to any teachings from the past as the growing homophobia has not appeared out of the blue [Read more here]. Although the ‘LGBT-free zones’ and calling the LGBT+ community an ‘ideology’ instead of human beings by the most prominent figures in the country - led by President Andrzej Duda - were the breaking points in this real-life drama.
While these events caused a great stir among the public and were followed by an even greater discussion on both ends of the political spectrum, the mass demonstrations of solidarity with Margot took place across the country. Despite my fear, I managed to attend the one in Gdańsk. Among the crowd, I noticed not only young people fighting for dignity, but there were also older generations, manifesting their alliance, support, and fight for a better tomorrow for their children and grandchildren. It was moving, and what came to my mind was that part of Polish heritage - although defined differently by various groups - enclosed in solidarity and a willingness to act, overcome humiliation and limitations. Not so black and white emotions and issues compared to the photos. Highly difficult to be captured with a camera lens, still, I am glad I had the opportunity to be there and to show you at least a piece of it.