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LGBT Virgin Mary poster may land 3 activists in jail

Three female activists have been summoned back to court over their posters depicting the Virgin Mary with an LGBT flag halo offending religious feelings. They were cleared of the same charges earlier this year.

Three women, named by Amnesty International as Elzbieta, Anna, and Joanna, are due to appear in Poland’s docks on Wednesday for allegedly putting up the images of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo in public spaces in the city of Plock in late April 2019.

Polish authorities charged the trio in July 2020. Elzbieta was arrested in Poland the previous year after traveling abroad.

The women were cleared on charges of violating Article 196 of Warsaw’s penal code in March this year. Prosecutors appealed the verdict, however, and demanded their return to court.

The article stipulates that “whoever offends the religious feelings of other persons by publicly insulting an object of religious worship, or a place designated for public religious ceremonies, is liable to pay a fine, have his or her liberty limited, or be deprived of his or her liberty for a period of up to two years.”

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Amnesty International’s senior campaigner in Europe’s regional office, Catrinel Motoc, slammed Poland’s judiciary, claiming that the appeal “smacks of harassment and intimidation and the case should be dropped.”

Instead of dragging these activists back through court, the Polish authorities should be promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTI people who face an increasingly repressive climate of state-sponsored homophobia.

The treatment of LGBT issues in Poland has long been a point of friction between human rights organizations and the EU alike. The European Commission even threatened to cut off funds to a handful of Polish regions if they did not revoke their self-declared “LGBT-free zone” titles.

September saw a handful of regions ditch these statuses after Brussels hit Warsaw with the threat of pulling payouts.

The European Commission announced in July that it was beginning the process of taking legal action against Poland, as well as Hungary, for human rights violations of their LGBT communities, which the bloc says is not in line with its values.

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