Thousands support Polish ‘I am LGBT’ campaign on Twitter

people gathered in the center of Warsaw, Poland on July 27, 2019 in support of LGBT rights following a pride march turned violent in the city of Bialystok

Tens of thousands of social media users have joined in the #JestemLGBT campaign to show support for LGBT+ rights in Poland.

The hashtag, which means I am LGBT, was launched this week by Twitter users.

It aims to tackle homophobia and discrimination in a country deeply influenced by the Catholic Church and governed by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

One social media user wrote on Twitter: “This is a great initiative, so here’s my turn. #IamLGBT and I’m a journalist. You read my articles and you’ve probably seen my night-time broadcasts from the parliament. After 12 years together, I would like to finally become a wife.”

Another added: “#IamLGBT and I’m with #LGBT. Me, a regular, plain, balding engineer at a lab, a chemist. And I feel good about it.”

Poland’s ruling party has emphasised its opposition to LGBT+ rights ahead of a parliamentary election expected to take place in October.

Speaking at a public event earlier this month, party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said: “We don’t have to emulate those who are in the West, we don’t have to stand under the rainbow flag, we can stand under the red-and-white one.”

Critics say PiS has spread intolerance in Poland. Earlier this month, a Pride march in the city of Bialystok faced violent attacks from far-right groups, who pelted LGBT+ campaigners with rocks, glass bottles and firecrackers.

Several videos posted to social media appeared to show young LGBT+ people being violently assaulted, with the nationalist protesters also stealing and burning a rainbow flag.

The anti-LGBT protesters, many of them dressed in football shirts, chanted “Bialystok free of perverts” and “God, honour and motherland.”

Twenty-five people were detained after the incident, according to police.

Last week, a conservative newspaper distributed “LGBT-free zone” stickers, which feature a Pride flag covered in black. The publication, Gazeta Polska, has a circulation of 110,000 and is openly supportive of PiS.

Support for Poland’s LGBT+ community remains steadfast however, with some of the country’s most recognised LGBT+ politicians, celebrities and activists are using Taylor Swift to tackle rising homophobic sentiment.

This week, more than 140 people contributed lip-synching videos to create a Polish version of Taylor Swift’s anti-homophobia anthem, “You Need To Calm Down.”