Police in Warsaw say they have detained 48 people who attempted to prevent them from arresting the LGBT activist following a court order.
On Friday, crowds of protesters shouting "Shame, disgrace!" surrounded a police vehicle in the centre of Warsaw to try and stop it driving away with the activist inside, the Reuters news agency reported.
The activist, going by the name of Margot, is accused of attacking an anti-abortion campaigner and damaging his vehicle as well as of draping rainbow flags, symbols of the LGBT movement, over public monuments and religious statues in the Polish capital, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
The Warsaw police force said on its Twitter account on Saturday that "48 people were detained due to yesterday's active gathering."
Polish opposition politicians have condemned the detentions, while also accusing officers of brutality and heavy-handed treatment of sexual minority groups.
Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, has called for the immediate release of the activist in a Twitter post.
Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro defended the police at a news conference on Saturday, saying the officers “did what they were supposed to do, what Polish law requires them to do in such cases.”
He also slammed the opposition for "standing on the side of banditry and hooliganism” rather than “on the side of the law.”
Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro speaks at a news conference in Warsaw on Saturday. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka
Meanwhile, a series of pro-LGBT rallies were held on Saturday in several Polish cities, including one in downtown Warsaw, in support of the arrested activist, state news agency PAP reported.
The latest incidents came after Warsaw police said last week they had detained individuals suspected of hanging up rainbow flags on a swathe of monuments in the city.
Officers “have detained the first suspects,” Warsaw police said on Twitter at the time, without specifying how many people had been detained.
“It is only a matter of time before the others are detained,” police tweeted, adding that the case involved offending people’s religious feelings and desecrating public monuments.
The appearance of rainbow flags on statues in the Polish capital last week caused anger among right-wing commentators, who accused LGBT activists of a lack of respect for Polish history and symbols.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda in June asked international media outlets not to spread “fake news,” accusing them of misrepresenting his remarks about LGBT people in reports focusing on a speech he made during his re-election campaign.
Several hundred parents in March last year staged a protest in Warsaw against a pro-LGBT move by the city’s mayor amid a row over suggestions that gay couples in Poland should be allowed to marry and adopt children.
Fifty-five percent of Poles are against allowing same-sex partners to marry, according to a survey last year.
Source: PAP, IAR, Reuters