The public prosecutor has launched an investigation into LGBT activists’ campaign of covering monuments and religious symbols with rainbow flags and anarchist symbols. The investigation will concentrate on the actions causing offence to religious feelings.
On Friday, the Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw opened an investigation into the “defiling of Warsaw’s monuments” and “offence to religious feelings by publicly insulting the object of religious cult”.
Under article 196 of the Polish penal code anyone who offends the religious feelings of other people by publicly insulting an object of religious worship may be fined or sentenced to up to two years in prison.
LGBT activists strike by night
During the week rainbow flags and anarchist symbols on pink masks appeared on a number of prominent statues in Warsaw. They included the figure of Christ in a well-known central Warsaw church, a statue of the father of Poland regaining its independence Józef Piłsudski and Copernicus.
The night-time action was the work of three organisations campaigning for gay rights and sex education. They defended the action saying the rainbow flag should not offend anyone and that they were attempting to expose homophobia.
Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki called the actions an “act of vandalism” and accused the perpetrators of being divisive. Writing on social media the PM stated that there should be no tolerance for the defiling of national religious symbols in the name of any ideology and that the statues symbolise values important to Poles. He argued that these must be protected and that aggression should not be allowed under the disguise of the quest for equality.
Warsaw’s archbishop Kazimierz Nycz called the action “crossing the boundaries of public debate” and said it was a source of pain to the religious feelings of believers. However, former Polish PM and head of the European People’s Party Donald Tusk tweeted that “Jesus stood up for the weak and injured, never siding with oppressive authorities”.
Dispute in the EU
The action by the LGBT activists came in the same week that the EC rejected funding applications from six Polish municipalities under funding for twinning between local authorities in the EU. The rejection came as a result of the six municipalities having declared themselves as “LGBT ideology free zones”.
The action by the EC has been protested by Poland’s justice ministry as being an example of the Commission breaching its powers. Former PM and currently an MEP Beata Szydło accused the EC of attacking the right of free speech by its actions.
The action by LGBT activists was meant to cause controversy. It has certainly succeeded on that front.
However, it is doubtful that it has won the LGBT community any friends. It is hard to discern what Marshall Piłsudski or Copernicus have to do with today’s culture wars. And the cross outside the church has poignant history dating back to the Warsaw Uprising.
Mr Tusk’s remark that Jesus sided with victims and not governments is a curious one to describe the case of the LGBT movement, a movement that has gained enormous influence among the wealthy and powerful all over the world.
The prosecutors have to enforce the law. However, it probably would not be a proportionate response for the activists to be charged with anything that would entail a prison sentence.
Finally, the EC’s actions beg the question about the limits of free speech in the EU. One understands that the LGBT community may feel offended by actions such as the “LGBT ideology free zones”, even though these are political declarations and little more.
However, Poles and other central Europeans may feel highly offended by the fact that Jean-Claude Juncker actually took part in a celebrated unveiling of a huge statue of Karl Marx funded by the Chinese authorities. For Poles Marx stands as a symbol of an ideology that led to enslavement and genocide.