Elzbieta Podlesna, Anna Prus and Joanna Gzyra-Iskandar, three gay rights activists, are on trial for distributing posters of the Mother of God with a rainbow instead of a halo.
The image they posted was that of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, one of Poland’s most venerated icons, which is housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Southern Poland, around the church. The three accept the charges but deny any wrongdoing
The protests, which took place in April 2019, were intended as a critique of the Polish government, led by the conservative Law & Justice Party, and the Catholic Church for their hostility towards LGBT people. Some days before, the leader of the Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, had called LGBT rights a “threat” and asked all Poles to respect the Church whatever their personal beliefs
The three are charged with putting posters on walls and elsewhere around the central city of Plock’s St Dominic’s Church, in which there had been an installation associating the LGBT community with criminality.
In a statement to reporters, Podlesna said “God forbid, no, I’m not pleading guilty to having offended religious sentiment.
“I don’t believe that a rainbow can offend anything or anyone. I didn’t commit a crime,” she added, according to a report by PAP, the Polish News Agency.
The plight of the three, facing up to two years in prison, has been taken up by rights groups such as Amnesty International, which has called on proscecutors to drop the charges. LGBT rights groups have called the law a suppression of freedom of speech.
A group of supporters have assembled outside the trial with banners reading ‘The Rainbow Gives No Offense’.