A PiS electoral candidate has written to Wrocław President Jacek Sutryk to in an attempt to have this Saturday’s Equality March delayed until after the upcoming election.
In an open letter published online, PiS’ Artur Adamski claimed the march could offend the Catholic community and incite violence. He called on Wrocław’s President to remove his patronage of the march and delay it until after Poland’s parliamentary election on October 13th.
Dear Mr. President, Dear Neighbor,
I have regretfully received the information that you have become a patron of the LGBT + march, which is being organized one week before the parliamentary elections.
You are well aware of the political context of this march and the effect the organizers are counting on it having. You know very well that, although this march will be protected by police cordons, it carries a real risk of causing riots similar to those that occurred in Białystok.
I understand that you have the right to wholeheartedly support the ideas of the LGBT + environment, but the role of the Mayor of the City of Wrocław is not to expose your own beliefs, but to care for public order and beliefs of all residents of Wrocław, including the Catholic community, which this march is targeted at.
I am kindly asking you to withdraw the patronage for this march, and using the strength of your personal acquaintances with the organizers, change its date to a time after the parliamentary elections.
If this is supposed to be a “festival of tolerance,” then you should understand that the chosen date is terrible, because the LGBT + issue has become an important part of the political struggle in this election campaign.
The Equality March is of course held in mid-October every year, irrespective of whether there is an election or not.
It is also debatable whether the event will have any influence on the electorate at all. The views of Polish voters on LGBT rights tend to be rather cemented in one way or another, so the demonstration is unlikely to significantly sway opinion. Even if the LGBT march does change some minds, there is no guarantee the swing will be in one direction only. Therefore the grounds on which Mr Adamski wants to see the protest delayed do seem rather odd.
It is of course possible that the PiS candidate is merely using his open letter as a publicity stunt. Poland’s electoral system means that he is not only competing against other parties for votes, but also his own PiS colleagues. Mr Adamski is number 10 on PiS’ list, and he does not appear to be benefiting from the same volume of poster promotion as those further up the list.
As regards the claims that violence is likely to erupt at the march due to counter protests, it is tough to predict what will happen on Saturday. In recent times the march has grown in size and scope, while the volume and animosity of the counter protest has arguably dwindled. Indeed, barring one or two isolated incidents following the march, no acts of violence have taken place for years.
However, this year the far-right have been particularly mobilised due to the amount of companies that declared themselves as LGBT-friendly over the summer. IKEA, Ben & Jerry’s, Volvo and H&M have all declared their support for the LGBT community in way or another. On top of that, rainbow shopping bags are becoming an increasingly common site on city streets – much to the consternation of some.
Anti-LGBT organisations such as ‘Ordo Iuris’ and ‘stoppedofilii.pl’, who are gathering signatures for a draft bill that would jail persons for delivering sex-education, typically do not engage in any violence. Nevertheless, some hooligan groups have shown less constraint, as was the case in Białystok.