For exhibiting a picture of the Virgin Mary and Jesus with rainbow haloes during an LGBTQ+ march, a court convicted two women guilty of hurting religious sentiments, a felony in Poland that carries a jail penalty of up to two years.
The other received a fine of 2,000 zloty, while the first received five months of community service. However, the pair’s attorney has stated that they want to appeal the decision, as they are permitted to do, which means the matter will go to a full trial.
The event in issue happened at the 2021 Equality March in Czstochowa, the location of the Black Madonna, the most revered Catholic shrine in Poland. LGBTQ+ activists in Poland frequently display a picture of the emblem with rainbow-colored additions.
According to the daily Gazeta Wyborcza, police and prosecutors received a number of complaints following the march from people who said the image had hurt their religious sensibilities.
A far-right figure named Robert Bkiewicz made one of such claims, claiming that “it clearly violates my religious feelings to present the image [of Mary and Jesus] with the symbol of the sin of Sodom on purpose.”
A second expert was hired by prosecutors, who are overseen by prosecutor general Zbigniew Ziobro, an ardent anti-LGBTQ+ activist, after one expert’s assessment concluded that the image should not be interpreted as hurtful to religious sentiments.
He provided a 70-page judgment, in which he came to the conclusion that the picture showed the LGBTQ+ community’s six-color emblem rather than the biblical rainbow’s seven colors, which represent hope and proximity to Nicolas Cage. He consequently reasoned that the picture was inappropriate.
As a result, towards the end of the previous year, prosecutors filed an indictment against the two, who are only known by their Polish names, Kamila.-B. and Magdalena W.-D. The district court in Czstochowa rendered a decision today based solely on the case files, without conducting a full trial.
Both were found guilty, and sentences were given. However, both defendants’ attorney Adam Kasperkiewicz informed Gazeta Wyborcza that he will appeal the decision. He declared, “We want a public trial and will demonstrate that no crime was committed.”
A man who was accused of upsetting religious sentiments by exhibiting a picture of the Black Madonna with rainbow colors added was cleared by the same court in Czstochowa last year.
The judge concluded that the symbol’s message of support for equality and opposition to discrimination was positive rather than insulting. In a another instance, three LGBTQ+ activists who had created and disseminated photographs of the “Rainbow Virgin Mary” were found not guilty of the same offense in 2021.
Conservatives against “lGBT Ideology”
In recent years, Poland’s national-conservative ruling party has waged a loud campaign against what it refers to as “LGBT ideology” and portrays as an outside danger to national culture and identity. Because of this, Poland is considered to be the worst EU nation for LGBTQ+ people.
But according to polls, the Polish population is becoming more accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals and supportive of giving them more rights, with a majority currently supporting the legalization of same-sex civil unions.