A Polish court acquitted three female activists who were accused of desecration and offending religious sentiments by replacing halos in the images of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus with an LGBT rainbow.
They created posters adding the LGBT rainbow to images of revered Roman Catholic icons with an aim to protest what they contemplate as hostility towards the LGBT people by Poland’s Influential Catholic Church.
The Court in the city of Plock held that they could not find any signs of a crime but they did find out that the activists had no intention to offend anyone’s religious feelings or disrespect the image of the Virgin Mary.
This case was perceived as an assessment of freedom of speech under a deeply conservative government in Poland. The Polish Government has been aspiring to oppose secularization and liberal views as a foreign imposition. Recently the Constitutional tribunal declared the law authorizing abortions for malformed foetuses to be unconstitutional, effectively criminalizing abortions save when the pregnancy is an outcome of a criminal act or when the women’s life or health is at risk.
Elżbieta Podleśna, one of the activists had commented previously that the posters were prompted by an installation associating LGBT people with crimes and sins at the city’s St. Dominic’s Church.
The image created by the activists, Elżbieta Podleśna, Anna Prus, and Joanna Gzyra-Iskandar altered Poland’s most honored and idolized icon, the Mother of God of Czestochowa also known as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.
Podlesna in an interview to the Onet news portal said that the existence of such a provision in the penal code
“leaves a door open to use it against the people who think differently.”
If the activists were found guilty, they could have ended up in prison for up to two years.
An LGBT rights group, Love Does Not Exclude, welcomed the decision as a breakthrough and commented,
“This is a triumph for the LGBT+ resistance movement in the most homophobic country of the European Union.”
Podslena was arrested in an early morning police raid on her apartment and questioned for several hours. The court found the detention to be redundant and awarded her with damages equalling to some $2,000.
The altered icon has received a lot of attention and can be seen as a part of various street protests.
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