Thursday, May 16, 2019

Poland Says Nay to Rainbow-ed Virgin Mary

A 51-year-old Polish civil rights activist who put up images of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo in Plock in April was arrested – and then charged with offending religious feelings, a crime in Poland, punishable by up to two years in prison. 

This was said to be a response to an Easter display there featuring slogans about sins – listed among the sins were "gender" and "LGBT". 

Deputy Justice Minister Patryk Jaki had called the posters part of a campaign to “humiliate Catholics” and said it must be stopped. 

The representation Elzbieta Podlesna (left) chose was the "Our Lady of Czestochowa" icon. It has been revered by Catholics across Europe for centuries, and was symbolically crowned the "Queen of Poland" in the 17th Century. 

She said she did what she did to protest against what she calls the "exclusion of LGBT people from society" by the country's Catholic Church. 

"Nobody should be excluded from society. Sexual orientation is not a sin or a crime and the Holy Mother would protect such people from the Church and from priests who think it is okay to condemn others", she explained. 

Podlesna, who says she believes in God but is no longer a practising Catholic, said she has received death threats following her actions. 

"I would say there is something wrong with these feelings if they are hurt by something like this. It is very shallow", she added. 

Some Poles have shown their support for her by putting up rainbow-haloed Madonnas in Warsaw or adopting the image for their social media profile pictures.

People demonstrate in front of St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow, Poland, with posters ‘Free Ela’ to support Elzbieta Podlesna, who was accused of profanation for making a poster of Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo

Last week Tuesday, European Council president Donald Tusk, who was in his native Poland, had labelled the Polish authorities’ harsh reaction as “inconceivable”. 

And Warsaw's Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights said the police action could easily be seen as "deliberately targeted repression" because Podlesna is a well-known grassroots activist.

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