Block, Poland (AP) – Three human rights activists were brought to trial on Wednesday in Poland for alleged profanation and insulting to religious sentiments by adding the rainbow symbol of the LGBTI rights movement to posters of a revered Roman Catholic symbol and display Publicly edited image, including litter boxes and mobile toilets.
Activists said they created posters that used rainbows to replace the halos in the black icon of Madonna and Baby Jesus to protest what they saw as the hostility of the influential Polish Catholic Church toward homosexuals.
One of the defendants, Elzbieta Podlesna, said in court Wednesday that their 2019 move in Plock was prompted by a fixation in the city’s Saint Dominic Church linking homosexuals to crime and negative behavior.
The three do not deny the placement of posters on the walls and other places around the church, but they do not admit to placing posters with the image on litter boxes and toilets. They deny any wrongdoing.
The Polish media identified the other defendants as Anna Bruce and Joanna Jazira Iskander.
Activists could face up to two years in prison if found guilty on charges of insulting religious sentiments and desecrating Poland’s most revered icon, The Mother of God of Czstochowa, popularly known as the Black Madonna of Chestuchowa.
The original icon has been housed in the Jasna Gora Monastery in Chistuchua since the 14th century.
A group of fans waving rainbow flags and banners reading “The Rainbow Does Not Hurt” gathered outside the stadium. No judgment was expected on Wednesday.
Podlesna was arrested in an early morning police raid on her apartment in 2019. She was held for several hours and questioned about the icon stickers that were placed around Plock. A court later said the detention was unnecessary and ordered her compensation equivalent to $ 2,000.
The case highlighted the dispute over social issues in predominantly Catholic Poland. The country’s right-wing government supports laws against insulting religious beliefs and symbols. LGBTQ rights advocates say laws are being used to stifle human rights and freedom of expression.