Thousands March In Warsaw Pride, Palace of Culture Lit Up In Rainbow Colors

The first Equality Parade ("Parada Równości") was held in 2001.

On Saturday, thousands marched in support of LGBT rights in Warsaw’s 17th annual Equality Parade. Though the event has faced violence before, and specific security measures were taken, the event was peaceful.

Exactly how many people attended is debatable: Estimates vary from a conservative 10,000 up to the 50,000 cited by organizers.

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Majority-Catholic Poland is still one of the most homophobic countries in the EU, and participants hoped to shine a light on the need for anti-discrimination laws, same-sex unions, and protections for other minorities.

“Homophobia causes heart illness,” one banner read.

WARSAW, POLAND - 2017/06/03: A protester holds up a poster that reads,
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Not surprisingly, there was some opposition: One woman held a banner reading “Men who live with each other, will not inherit the kingdom of God,” reported Gazeta Wyborcza. And the assembly of Catholic bishops asked Catholics not to participate in the parade, claiming advocating for LGBT equality was “falsifying the church’s unchangeable teaching.”

This year’s parade followed a triangular, rather than linear route, allowing participants to start and finish in the same place. “It will allow us to celebrate this occasion together,” said organizer Slava Melnyk.

The celebration also included diplomats from more than 40 foreign embassies, corporate sponsors like Google, and an Equality Village with representatives from more than 20 pro-equality NGOs. The Warsaw Palace of Culture was also lit up in rainbow colors in honor of the occasion.

I think it's even prettier like this #fightforyourright #paradarownosci2017 #equalitymarch #lgbt #equalityparade

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The Equality Parade has been held since 2001, though it was banned in 2004 and 2005.

Somewhere over the rainbow

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Kolorowo, radośnie, z miłoscia #paradarownosci2017

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Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.