Photo: Hanna Sörensson [Flickr]

Two Pride marches for LGBTQ+ rights took place in Poland to protest the country’s ‘LGBT-free zones’.

Since 2019, almost 100 cities and municipalities have declared themselves to be “LGBT free”.

Over the weekend, the parades took place under heavy police presence as LGBTQ+ organisers took to the streets in Czestochowa and Gdansk.

Officers were at the event on horseback, something which those marching feel was a factor that stopped any issues arising when far-right groups shouted anti-LGBTQ+ slurs such as “no homosexual love”.

Czestochowa is a town that is home to 220,000 people and is located in southern Poland, with Gdansk being a port city situated along the northern Baltic coast.

The presence of the police was deemed necessary as Pride parades across Poland in recent years have faced an array of attacks.

Far-right groups previously targeted a Pride event in Bialystok in 2019 when they used bricks and glass bottles to attack those marching.

Czestochowa’s 3rd Equality Parade fortunately went ahead without disruption on Saturday, even though far-right activists made the journey from other towns and cities to oppose it.

Bartlomiej Czuchnowski, a 26-year-old head of a regional far-right youth organisation in Opole, southwestern Poland, said: “This is a clear provocation, because LGBT circles have always been anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, you can even say.

“So their march in this direction, into the heart of the Polish nation, into the heart of Polish Catholicism, is an open provocation.”

LGBTQ+ activist Monika Radecka, who is from Czestochowa, explained that there is growing support for human rights marches – though is aware that there is “still there is a large group that does not support them.”

She said: “Whatever we, LGBT people, do is interpreted as a provocation.”

Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, the mayor of Gdansk, attended the city’s Pride march alongside ambassadors of some European Union countries.

Official estimates claim that Gdansk’s march was attended by 3,500 people, with almost 1,000 police and security officers protecting them.

As with Czestochowa, no major incidents were reported at the Pride march in Gdansk.