A married couple have been sentenced to a year in prison each after they were found guilty of bringing explosive materials to an LGBTI Pride march in the Polish city of Lublin last year.
The devices, which were made of containers filled with gas that were connected to firecrackers “posed a threat to the life and health of many people,” judge Łukasz Czapski said as he sentenced the defendants at a regional court in Lublin on Thursday.
The couple, who were only named as Karolina and Arkadiusz S, were among dozens who were arrested trying to disrupt the march in the city, 170 km southeast of Warsaw, in October. Both defendants had pleaded guilty and asked the court to issue convictions without trial. This was agreed to by the judge who took into account their lack of criminal records when he sentenced them each to a year in prison.
“The circumstances of the crime, as well as the defendants’ guilt are beyond question. The evidence proves the defendant had constructed three objects that should be treated, according to expert witness, as home-made explosive devices, posing threat to life and health of many people. Furthermore, the other defendant carried these devices in her backpack, and equipped this way they joined the counter-protest” – TVN24 quoted judge Łukasz Czapski as saying.
The march was initially banned by the city council citing security concerns, but the decision was overturned by the courts after it was appealed by LGTBI organisations.
Participants waving rainbow flags and banners with inscriptions like “Jesus taught love” and “Homophobia threatens Polish families” were attacked by far-right demonstrators shouting homophobic slogans and throwing eggs and bottles. The police then used water cannons and tear gas to disperse them; some 30 people were arrested.
The Nationalist Conservative government in Poland has come under repeated criticism for its anti-LGBTI rhetoric which featured prominently in the ruling Law and Justice’s campaign platform in last year’s parliamentary elections.
In December the European Parliament condemned the proliferation of so-called LGBTI-free zones adopted by some 80 municipalities in Poland. The resolution also called on the European Commission “to monitor how all EU funding is used, to remind stakeholders of their commitment to non-discrimination and that such funds must not be used for discriminatory purposes.”