Despite miserable weather conditions, Saturday’s LGBT-rights march was reportedly attended by around 8,000 people – 1,000 more than in 2018.
Participation at the Equality March has risen significantly in recent years – back in 2015 only a few hundred people took part in the event. The dramatic rise means the Equality March is getting ever closer to reaching the same attendance as the nationalist Independence Day march on November 11th (approximately 9,000 in 2018). This would have been unimaginable even a couple of years ago.
Once again a massive police presence prevented any outbreak of violence at the march. One potential tragedy was averted by officers before the demonstration, when a knife-wielding man shouting “Allah Akbar” attempted to break through police lines. The 41-year-old Polish man was grappled to the ground and cuffed before being taken for questioning.
Some of Wrocław’s biggest corporate employers made their presence openly felt at the Equality March, including Credit Suisse, Google, HP and BNY Mellon. Their public stance against LGBT-discrimination follows that of other major companies trading in Poland, including IKEA, Ben & Jerry’s, Volvo, H&M and Flying Tiger Copenhagen.
This year’s march was the first ever to be held under patronage of Wrocław’s President, Jacek Sutryk. Although Sutryk himself did not attend the event, one of his advisers gave a message on his behalf:
Wrocław is our common cause. It is a city for everyone – for old and young people of different skin colours, different nationalities and religions, for heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals. Wrocław is always for love and always against hatred, against violence and discrimination. We will boldly and uncompromisingly defend and protect this idea of openness, diversity and mutual respect.
Bartłomiej Ciążński, social adviser to the President of Wrocław on tolerance and prevention of homophobia
As is normally the case, there were a small number of counter protests at spots alongside the route of the Equality March.
These were organised by the group ‘stoppedofilii.pl’, an oganisation who believe homosexuality to be the primary cause of pedophilia. They also argue that the “LGBT lobby” want to teach children as young as four about masturbation. On top of that, stoppedofilii.pl have been working with Ordo Luris to gather signatures for a draft bill that would jail persons for delivering sex-education.
However, the violent hooligan groups that have disturbed other LGBT-rights marches in Poland did not intervene this year.
The Equality March also caused a number of diversions to public transport routes, much to the frustration of passengers. In some cases the routes went well of course, with numerous passengers taking to social media to complain about the lack of information.