As homophobic Polish state action and sentiment intensifies, local collectives are helping in the fight for equality and protection.
Avtomat, who has since been released, was protesting the arrest of Stop Bzdurom ("Stop Bullshit") member Margot Szutowicz for posing with a rainbow flag on the Jesus Christ monument. As local journalist Paweł Starzec described in a Facebook post, the already present anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment in the country was heightened during the far-right Law And Justice party's campaign for the July presidential election.
"As few weeks ago there was presidential campaign in full blast, Law and Justice (ruling enti-establishment ultraconservative party) utilised the LGBTQ[IA]+ rights as a weapon to polarise the voters," Starzec wrote. "LGBTQ[IA]+ people have virtually no legal protection in Poland—no marriages, no adoptions, no civil unions, almost zero hate speech protection, known cases of deliberate refusal of recognition for homosexual couples married elsewhere... About two years ago, they also started to broadcast anti-LGBTQ+ messages, calling this action 'Stop Pedophilia.'"
On Saturday, "The protesters' group, after protesting peacefully for quite a long time, was, without warning, attacked by the police, the officers picking random protesters (all of them were peaceful) from the crowd, as well as arresting people from around that had colourful elements of clothing," said Paulina Żaczek of Granko Agency in an email. The arrested protesters, including two who were wounded, were taken to unknown locations, "without being given a reason nor a legal basis for that action." Since being released, Avtomat is calling for people who have video of the Saturday arrests to share their recordings to help refute charges on other protesters.
There's been demonstrations against Saturday's arrest throughout the weekend, with more action today. Learn more about Stop Bzdurom and how you can help here.
Avtomat contributed a track to Oramics and New York Haunted's 113-track benefit compilation called Total Solidarity from 2019, though, "The situation back then was mild compared to what's happening now," according to an email from Unsound's Łukasz Warna-Wiesławski. In "Ignorance Ha," Avtomat samples a homophobic quote from conservative Polish MP Krystyna Pawłowicz.
At Unsound 2019, Maya-Róisín Slater hosted a panel with Polish activists in the electronic music scene about the country's right-wing violence and homophobic rhetoric. Listen back to the conversation on the RA Exchange.