PLOCK, Poland (AP) – Three human rights activists were prosecuted in Poland on Wednesday for alleged desecration and insult of religious sentiment by adding the LGBT rights movement’s rainbow symbol to posters of an honored Roman Catholic icon and publicly displaying the altered image, including on rubbish bins and mobile toilets.
Activists have said they created posters using rainbows to replace the halos in the icon of the Black Madonna and Child Jesus to protest what they saw as the hostility of Poland’s influential Catholic Church to LGBT people.
One of the defendants, Elzbieta Podlesna, said in court on Wednesday that their action in 201
The three do not deny putting the posters on walls and elsewhere around the church, but do not admit to putting stickers with the picture on trash cans and toilets. They deny wrongdoing.
Polish media identified the other defendants as Anna Prus and Joanna Gzyra-Iskandar.
Activists could face up to two years in prison if convicted of violating religious sentiment and desecrating Poland’s most revered icon, the Mother of God of Czestochowa, popularly known as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.
The original icon has been housed in the Jasna Gora Monastery in the city of Czestochowa since the 14th century.
A group of supporters with rainbow flags and banners titled “The Rainbow Gives No Offense” gathered outside the court. A verdict was not expected on Wednesday.
Podlesna was arrested in an early morning police raid on her apartment in 2019. She was detained for several hours and questioned over the posters with the icon placed around Plock. A court later said the detention was unnecessary and ordered damages equal to the $ 2,000 awarded to her.
The case has highlighted the clash over social issues in predominantly Catholic Poland. The country’s right-wing government supports laws against insulting religious beliefs and symbols. LGBT spokesmen say the laws are being used to stifle human rights and freedom of expression.