A Polish court acquitted on Tuesday (02) three LGBTQIA+ rights activists who were accused of “offending religious feelings” by distributing posters of the Virgin Mary showing a halo in the colors of the rainbow, in an allusion to the flag of the gay pride movement. The information is from DW.
The city court in Plock, in the central region of the country, found the three defendants – Joanna Gzyra Iskandar, Anna Prus and Elzbieta Podlesna – innocent, claiming that nothing proved their intention to offend.
Posters of the Virgin Mary of Czestochowa, the patron saint of Poland, with a rainbow halo appeared in April 2019 near a church in Plock.
The author of the montage, Elżbieta Podlesna, was quickly identified by the police, who found dozens of similar images on her computer. She was eventually arrested.
The case sparked international criticism and calls for the charges to be dropped
“The activists’ objective (…) was to show their support to LGBT people (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders), to fight for them to have equal rights”, understood Judge Agnieszka Warchol.
The judge noted that the court received many letters from practicing Catholics, including members of the clergy, who assured them that the images of the rainbow halo – a symbol of the LGBT community – were not offensive.
The activists, accused of desecrating the image of the Virgin, were at risk of being punished with up to two years in prison due to an article in the Polish penal code that prohibits “offending religious feelings”.
“The Church is still a very important power in Poland. Everything depends now on what kind of power it will be: will it promote diversity, solidarity and empathy, or will it be a destructive, politicized and money-oriented power, as it is now“said activist Podlesna, one of those acquitted today.
In an interview with DW, Podlesna also said that she and the other defendants “are satisfied” with the court’s decision. However, she points out that this “is not the end of the battle”, as the prosecution said it will appeal the decision.
She added that it is very significant that the judge said “so many important words for LGBT people, including saying that the rainbow does not offend anyone and does not offend religious feelings”.