Polish court acquits activists who put LGBT rainbow on an icon

A Polish court has acquitted three activists who put an LGBT rainbow on an icon of the Madonna and Child, made it into a poster and distributed it.

The court said it did not see evidence of a crime.

The activists had been charged with producing and distributing posters of an altered icon of the Mother of God of Czestochowa – also called the “Black Madonna of Czestochowa.”

They had changed the icon so the Madonna and Child sported rainbow images as halos.

They distributed the posters in the Polish city of Plock in 2019.

They told the court their aim was to protest what they saw as the hostility of Poland’s Catholic Church toward LGBT people.

When the trial opened in January, one defendant said the poster distribution was spurred by an installation at the city’s St. Dominic’s Church that associated LGBT people with crime and sins.

She said she was arrested in an early morning police raid on her apartment in 2019, held for several hours and questioned over the posters.

A court later said the detention was unnecessary and ordered damages of about $2,000 awarded to her.

All three defendants faced up to two years of prison if found guilty of desecration.

Poland’s desecration provision in its penal code “leaves a door open to use it against people who think a bit differently,” one activist said.

The conservative Life and Family Foundation, which brought the case, says it plans to appeal the ruling.

“Defending the honor of the Mother of God is the responsibility of each of us, and the guilt of the accused is indisputable,” the group’s founder said on Facebook.

“The courts of the Republic of Poland should protect (Catholics) from violence, including by LGBT activists.”

However, the court found the activists were not motivated by a desire to offend anyone’s religious feelings. Rather, they wanted to defend those facing discrimination, Polish media reports.

An LGBT rights group, Love Does Not Exclude, welcomed the ruling as a “breakthrough.”

“This is a triumph for the LGBT+ resistance movement in the most homophobic country of the European Union,” it said.

Because of all the attention, the altered icon has received, it is now a very recognized image in Poland, one sometimes seen at street protests.

The case was seen in Poland as a freedom of speech test. The country’s “deeply conservative government” has been pushing back against secularization and liberal views.


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