On the morning of Saturday, Nov. 19, I arrived in
Poznań to take part in a conference and the Equality March. Already on
Friday I learned that the leftist voivode, or a central government
representative, agreed with the mayor of Poznań and upheld his ban of the
But I had confidence in the Constitution, the EU
laws—for sure the police would protect us.
There were some 100 people at the conference,
university students, mainly girls. Most of them had no affiliation, while
the rest were feminists from the Konsola Women Association, the Greens 2004
activists, several people from gay organizations from all over Poland.
We’re talking about exclusion of not only gays and
lesbians, but news media and politicians referred to the Days of Equality as
“the Gay Parade.”
“Eggs begin to fly. I get one on the ear. I wipe it
off. The ear hurts a little, but it’s nothing...”
At 3 p.m., we’re walking out of the Bookarest
bookstore and we’re going down the Polwiejska Street. We’re just several
hundred meters away from the Old Market Square.
There may be several hundred of us. Maybe three,
maybe five hundred. After just several minutes the police stand in our way,
both in front of us and behind us as well. We’re surrounded and can’t move.
We’re shouting: “Let us through! Freedom! Equality!
Tolerance!” The people behind the police officers yell: “Faggot! Perverts!”
Eggs begin to fly. I get one on the ear. I wipe it off. The ear hurts a
little, but it's nothing — I continue: “Tolerance!”
After a moment we realize that the police will not let
us go anywhere. So we begin walking around between the police cordons and
shout: “Democracy all around!”
After half an hour of walking like that, waving
rainbow flags, and shouting “Equal, but different,” we take out candles and
light them. Several hundred people hold the candles and shout: “This is a
funeral of democracy.”
After a moment, the girls who lead this demonstration
enter a podium and begin thanking people for coming to the march. We’re all
wondering how to get out.
And that’s when it began.
Someone shouted: “On the ground!” I turn around and
see disguised police officers with shields, running to get us. I grab my
friends and we all sit on the street. The policeman tries to pull a girl
out of the crowd.
She’s screaming, but the guy is two meters tall and
she gives up. I’m holding on to the other people and then a disguised
police guy grabs my leg. Someone's holding me, but he's trying to pull me
out. He’s shoving me around on the street and I say: “Let me go!”
When I get up, the police office grabs my hands, takes
them behind me, and pushes me in the direction of a car. I’m scared.
There’s some eight people at the prison van. “Name!”
the police officer wants to know. “Szypula,” I'm trying to answer. The
girl next to me is weeping. Another one is vomiting.
The crying one bursts out in tears. I hold her, her
name is Dabrowka. “Don't worry, they won’t do anything to us,” I say.
Dabrowka is 20 and she was at the march with her
sister, who was also detained. They’re both college students who came to
show their solidarity with the march.
They’re speeding us to the police station, the siren’s
on. There are some nine people in the van. I call my boyfriend and say:
“They're driving me to a police station. Love you, call you later.”
A dread-haired guy turns pale. We stop, the door
opens. The police officer reads out our names. We’re taken to the third
floor. There are 22 people in the room, including us.
I don't know where I am. Somebody from Poznań looks
out the window and says that it’s the Poznań-New City police station. The
pale dread-haired guy asks for water.
During the interrogation, I learn I’m suspected of
breaking Article 50 of the Misdemeanors Code. I reply that I don’t
understand. The policewoman answers: “taking part in an illegal concourse.”
She’s asking me how I plead to the charge. I can’t
stand it any longer: “What about the Constitution, what about the EU laws,
what about the freedom of gathering?” She replies that it’s her job.
A phone interrupts the interrogation, it’s her
boyfriend on the phone. “Honey, we won’t make it to the movies — I still
need to hear from six of them,” she says.
I’m angry. I plead not guilty. I’m starting a speech
about the Constitution blah blah, the EU blah blah, citizens’ rights.
She writes it all down unemotionally.
I sign in the box that states “Suspect”. I get out of
the station. I feel horrible. I wonder what is less horrible — to be
beaten by a far-right fanatic All-Polish Youth or to go through the police
I think I prefer to get a beating.
I get back to the Old Town. At Café Miesna, there’s a
concert going on as part of the Days of Equality. We share our stories with
other demonstrators. My friends were taken to a different station. We try
to calm down.
Seven brave girls my age organized this march. It
wasn’t a gay demo, and there were more girls there. But the mayor, the
voivode, and bishop concluded that we posed a threat.
The police treated as like they treat football
hooligans. If that’s the beginning of the New Republic as Law and Justice
Party politicians say, then yes, we’re a big danger to it.
… Because we believe in democracy.
Tomasz Szypula is
secretary general of KPH (Campaign
Against Homophobia) in Warsaw
■ more photographs taken in
Poznań on Saturday can be found at:
Video report from TVP2 (3mb file - not
Unedited "independent" video from Indymedia.pl.
Poznań Bans Gay Pride Parade.
Audio report (MP3) by Radio Polonia's Michal Kubicki
(Radio Polonia, November 18, 2005)
Poznan Update: Dramatic
Video Footage Shows Extent of Police Violence During Gay Demo. London Protest Set for
Thursday. ILGA-Europe Protests
to Barroso. Dramatic – and unedited – video
footage of the problems in Poznan has been released by Indymedia.pl. (UK Gay
News, November 22, 2005)
Please Help Us – Polish
Gays Call to Europe. An impassioned plea has come from
many gays in Poland today in the wake of the heavy-handed action of the riot
police in Poznań on Saturday when more than 60 people were arrested during a peaceful
demonstration. The message was simple: “Please help us”.
(UK Gay News, November 19, 2005)
Today’s Gay March in
Poznań Now Legally Banned. The March of Equality and
Tolerance, dubbed ‘Gay Pride’, due to be staged in Poznan, western Poland, this afternoon (Saturday) has been officially
banned. (UK Gay News, November 19, 2005)
Polish City Bans Gay
March for Security Reasons, by Marcin Sobczyk in Warsaw.
The mayor of Poznań, a metropolitan city in western Poland, banned a gay parade on
Tuesday, Nov. 15. The Poznań march, expected to
gather some 500 demonstrators, was supposed to take place on Nov. 19 as part
of the Days of Equality and Tolerance in Poznań, organized by leftist,
ecological, and feminist groupings. (UK Gay News, November 16, 2005)
UK Gay News has many articles on Poland. These can
be accessed through the search engine on the main
Campaign Against Homophobia Poland website
Radio Polonia website (in English)
Polskie Radio website (in Polish)
Warsaw Independent website