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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: May 2016

6 - Poland and Slovenia's responses to international norms


Braving sweltering summer temperatures, 15,000 people gathered in Warsaw to celebrate LGBT visibility on a July weekend in 2010. Everything about that weekend in Warsaw – from the 90-degree temperatures to the parade of rainbow colors – seemed atypical as marchers from Poland and beyond assembled for the annual EuroPride parade. Hosting the regional event was a first for Poland and also for CEE. The European Pride Organizers Association, a group that included Tomasz Bączkowski, wanted the event to come to Warsaw after the 2007 ECtHR decision that had made it illegal to ban public assembly in Poland. This was a moment to reflect on the progress that domestic and transnational activism had made in Poland, and for activists from across Europe to gather and discuss the achievements and obstacles ahead. Yet the parade was met with strong resistance, as an estimated eight counterdemonstrations took place alongside it.

That same month, roughly 300 participants attended the tenth annual Ljubljana Pride, where “there have never been large masses of counterdemonstrations” (interview no. 154). The Ljubljana Pride, whose theme that year was “Enough Waiting on Equal Rights,” proceeded as usual. It received political endorsements from the president of the national assembly, Pavel Ganta, and Ljubljana's mayor, Zoran Jankovič – who has attended in years since. The minister of the interior, Katarina Kresal of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia party, again marched alongside participants. Novel to the 2010 event was the attendance of several Slovenian celebrities who expressed their support for expanding additional rights to the LGBT community. As had been the case every year since 2001, the Ljubljana Pride looked and felt like a celebration.

The Warsaw and Ljubljana Pride parades employed similar tactics and made related claims. Yet the striking difference between the events lies in the forms and extent of local resistance they provoked. Even the academic panels at the Warsaw “Pride House” in the week leading up to the event drew demonstrators. In Slovenia, political leaders were responsible for the sober public statements in reaction to the parade, but in Poland the stage was left open for religious leaders to respond. Although the EuroPride program included encouraging messages of support from mayors of other cities, such as London and Berlin, Warsaw's mayor, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz of the center-right Civic Platform Party, remained silent.