A group of Polish opposition MPs wore the rainbow colors of the LGBT flag in protest against President Andrzej Duda at his swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.
While some opposition leaders chose to boycott Duda’s inauguration, other MPs attended, wearing rainbow masks and bright colors to express their support for Poland’s LGBTQ community, whom Duda actively campaigned against.
In a campaign speech in June, Duda called LGBTQ rights an ideology “more destructive” than communism, prompting allegations of discrimination and hate speech from various international bodies, including the European Parliament.
Duda’s reelection bid has centered on “family rights and values,” and the belief that LGBTQ ideology undermines traditional family roles between men and women.
In a statement released Thursday, opposition members of Parliament present for the ceremony said they didn’t boycott the event because they felt it would be an empty gesture, and wanted to respect the wishes of the 20 million Poles who voted in the last presidential election.
“Instead, we have decided to symbolically demonstrate our solidarity with people who live month by month in an atmosphere of increasing fear and insecurity in their own country,” the statement reads.
MPs said they chose to wear the bright colors so they could form a rainbow that could not be cut from photos or cropped from the transmitted images.
Immediately after the swearing-in, MP Wanda Nowicka, on behalf of the left block, submitted a letter to Duda regarding LGBT activists who had been arrested without justification by authorities. The letter demands that the head of state ends the ongoing discriminatory campaign against LGBT people.
This discrimination is well-documented, with Poland ranking as the worst country on rights for LGBTQ people in Europe by the Internation Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA, a group that focuses on increased human rights for the LGBTQ community.