On the 20th of July, the Polish city of Bialystok held its first ever Pride Parade: marking the city’s first ever open celebration for the Polish LGBTQ community. It was initially marked as a victory for the community in such a conservative city (and in general, a conservative state): until the march took place, and was faced with major and dangerous backlash. Although those in the parade expected to receive resistance in lieu of the march, the violent resistance may have, sadly, been underestimated: with a turnout of thousands of furious anti-LGBT protesters, as opposed to the few hundred taking part in the march.
Riot police were required to protect marchers during pride, however dozens were injured, with 100 people being identified as attacking people in the parade. The result of strict anti-LGBT propaganda running throughout Poland, such as the Law and Justice Party staging a “family picnic” filled with anti-LGBT sentiment as European elections draw close, and over 30 Polish localities declaring themselves ‘free of LGBT ideology’.
In response to the horrific discrimation and violence directed toward LGBT people, especially following the incidents at Bialystok Pride, Poland’s dance community has spoken out in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. The dance and electronic music scenes have a deep connection with LGBTQ communities, with many electronic genres rooted in a history of safe spaces for LGBTQ people and people of colour. Label and event organisers Oramics and Brutaz have called for support for the community. Oramics shared their support via Twitter:
Unsound Festival have been vocal in their support for LGBTQ individuals, responding to the recent events with an event they held on July 25th, with the event details stating:
“In the face of numerous violent and discriminatory statements and actions related to “LGBT free zones” that appear in the public sphere recently, we want to show that Krakow is a city where everyone can feel safe and be treated with respect. We want to send a signal that we support LGBT + people in these difficult moments of media and political campaign and we will fight for a city free of hatred, whose operation is based on equality, acceptance and freedom.”
Unsound recently issued a further comment to Resident Advisor.
Unfortunately, Revive / Interior festival faced backlash in response to their stance, releasing statements in which they distanced themselves from the situation, stating ‘Revive free of politics’ and similarly ‘objective truth depends on the point of view’. The Facebook posts have since been deleted, with further clarification by an official Facebook statement:
“We want to make it clear that there is no agreement on our part on hatred, homophobia and intolerance. We support every person in the LGBT environment, our friends, acquaintances, friends and relatives, and people we don’t know.
Our words did not refer to the events in Białystok. We did not want and do not want our words to be interpreted in any way as praising the worst human qualities: stupidity, sadism and hatred. However, we believe that further subdivision, polarization and antagonization of successive environments does not lead to a solution of the problem, but only to fuelling the loop of hatred.”
The violence directed toward the LGBTQ community in Poland is horrifying; yet seeing the dance community stand up in vocal solidarity is a hopeful step toward inclusivity, safe spaces and the fight against discrimination in conservative Poland.