Three women face jail in Poland for sharing posters of Virgin Mary with an LGBT+ rainbow halo

LGBT+ Virgin Mary poster in Poland

Human rights groups are calling on Poland to drop charges against three women who face jail for sharing posters of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow-coloured halo.

The three women, identified only as Elżbieta, Anna and Joanna, are on trial for “offending religious beliefs” and could face jail sentences of two years each if found guilty for their peaceful activism.

Amnesty International and several other leading human rights organisations joined more than 140,000 people campaigning for Polish authorities to dismiss the case ahead the first hearing on Wednesday (4 November).

“The case against them is not unique but an example of the repeated harassment activists and human rights defenders face, simply for carrying out peaceful activism in Poland, which Polish and international human rights organisations have documented and denounced at length in the last several years,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

“Elżbieta, Anna and Joanna stood against hate and discrimination and for years they have been fighting for a just and equal Poland. They deserve to be praised and not taken to court for their activism.”

Elżbieta, 51, went to the press in May last year after police raided her home in search of the offending image, which was based on the Mother of God of Czestochowa painting.

They seized the photos and confiscated her laptop, mobile phone and memory cards. They also requested access to CCTV footage from the building in which she lives.

Poland’s Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski praised police for their “efficient action” in identifying her, writing on Twitter that “no whim of freedom” gave anybody the right to “offend the feelings of believers”.

Similar forms of peaceful LGBT+ activism have been criminalised as Poland makes a worrying shift towards national homophobia.

Three people were arrested in August for “insulting religious feelings” by giving a Jesus statue a Pride makeover with an LGBT+ flag. Police are also searching for the people who spray painted the names of LGBT+ children who died by suicide on the walls of the Polish ministry of Education.