Polish towns are declaring ‘LGBT-free zones’ while the ruling party cheers them on
KIELCE, Poland — Pop music accompanied about 1,000 rainbow-draped activists as they embarked on this city’s first-ever LGBT rights march last weekend. But the music could barely drown out the boos from bystanders.
The marchers proceeded past banners that compared gays to pedophiles. They pressed on in the face of counterprotesters making threatening gestures and Catholics praying on the sidewalks in silent protest.
The scene reflected a growing tension in this country — between a burgeoning rights movement and a conservative backlash. It’s a tension that the ruling party has been accused of fueling and exploiting.
Regional party officials have pushed to declare cities and entire provinces in the country’s conservative southeast ‘‘LGBT-ideology free.’’ Activists have counted around 30 such declarations so far.
Ahead of fall elections, the ruling Law and Justice party has thrown its full weight behind a campaign that is marginalizing Poland’s LGBT community, its critics say.