Three women went on trial on Poland Wednesday for publicly carrying posters showing the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus with rainbow halos in April 2019. According to a report in the Polish-language website Wyborcza.pl, Elżbieta Podleśna, Anna Prus, and Joanna Gzyra-Iskandar Podleśna face up to two years in prison for offending the religious feelings of the Catholics by displaying their own rainbow Mary and Jesus during Pride in Plock, Poland. The women said they were inspired to make their peaceful protest because of a homophobic Easter display at a nearby church.
“The immediate reason for our action was the homophobic and hurtful installation,” Podleśna told the court.
Co-defendant Prus agreed, declaring the church display was “hatred, contempt, aggression.”
The hateful display in question showed a cross surrounded by signs listing actions considered crimes by the church. They included words like betrayal, lie, homosexuality, and LGBT. In protest, the three women altered a nationally revered portrait of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus for the 2019 Pride protest.
The arrests and trial have been met with both outrage and support.
“Rainbow does not offend!” Jan Jooy, deputy European media director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted.
European Minister of Parliament Terry Reintke warned “this is happening right now – in the middle of the EU.”
A member of the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party, MEP Joachim Brudziński, welcomed the arrests at the time, thanking police and declaring in a tweet that no one has the “right to offend the feelings of believers.”
Sadly, the arrests and trial continued a darkening trend for the LGBTQ+ community in Poland. Homophobic President Andrzej Duda was re-elected to a second 5-year term after running on a “family card” of proposals that promised to outlaw marriage equality and prevent child adoption by LGBTQ+ families among other proposals. Towns all over the country have declared themselves “LGBT-free” zones. Two of the zones were declared illegal by local courts, but such progressive decisions have proven to be the exception.