Warsaw Gay Pride Parade Back After Backlash, Pandemic

The largest gay pride parade in central Europe took place again in Warsaw on Saturday for the first time in two years after a pandemic-induced break — and amid a backlash in Poland and Hungary against LGBT rights. The year’s Equality Parade came 20 years since the event was first held in the Polish capital. It was banned twice in its early years by a conservative mayor who feared it would promote homosexuality and last year it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski walked at the head of the parade in a sign of support for LGBT rights, joining thousands who were cheered on by others waving rainbow flags from apartment balconies and sidewalk cafes. But that level of acceptance is not universal in Poland, a heavily Catholic, largely conservative nation. The joyful and colorful celebration was tinged with fear of what the future holds for the rights of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people after setbacks first in Russia and now in Hungary. “The day of the parade is always a bittersweet moment for our community,” said Rafal Wojtczak, a spokesman for the organizers. He described feelings of sadness and helplessness that LGBT people have not achieved rights liked same-sex partnership or marriage in Poland, while also facing new threats. The parade comes only days after Hungary’s parliament passed a law that makes it illegal to show any materials about LGBT issues to people under 18.