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Good things have been happening for LGBTQ rights in Warsaw and Poland as a whole. Only weeks ago the city’s mayor signed a document recognizing the rights of queer people, a first in the entire nation. But, now, a setback: During a recent match in the city, homophobic soccer fans unfurled a giant banner inside the stadium which read, in Polish, “[Keep] Warsaw free from faggots.”
In addition to that phrase, the banner had the acronym “LGBT” with a red line through it.
It was homophobic soccer fans of the team Legia Warsaw who reportedly pulled out and put up the banner, which according to reports has still not been condemned by the team, the Polish Football Association or the UEFA (European Football Association).
It’s believed these homophobic soccer fans came out in full force due to the LGBTQ rights bill recently signed by Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski. “Warsaw is a city for everyone that does not discriminate against anyone,” Trzaskowski said at the time. If only that were true.
There have been reports of a wave of hate crimes against LGBTQ citizens since the queer rights measure’s passing. Currently neither Poland nor Warsaw has hate crimes laws enacted.
A spokesperson for Fare Network, an organization dedicated to rid soccer of discrimination, tells Gay Star News:
This incident shows us that in parts of Europe the basic rights of LGBT+ people are not taken for granted.
The fight is still very much on, especially in football. What is striking in this case, is that blatant homophobia and denial of basic human rights is framed as a legitimate political debate, as a ‘response’ to the mayor of Warsaw initiatives to protect LGBT+ people.
These messages are unacceptable and damaging to the game, and we are looking for strongest reaction from everyone in football – Legia Warsaw, the Polish Football Association (PZPN), UEFA and FIFA is necessary action is not taken on national level.
The Legia Warsaw team is said to be known for its far-right fanbase, which makes this incident involving homophobic soccer fans unsurprising but disappointing nonetheless.