Polish gay rights marchers face jail

Dozens of gay rights activists could face fines or prison sentences of up to a month for rallying in Poznan this weekend in defiance of a city ban on their "Equality March," authorities said.

    Police blocked the parade after a city ban

    In the latest standoff between an increasingly active gay rights movement and authorities in this staunchly Roman Catholic nation, a few hundred activists staged a demonstration in the western Polish city of Poznan on Saturday, although police had blocked their planned parade route.

    Sixty-eight activists could face fines of up to 5,000 zlotys (US$1500) or up to one month in prison, said Miroslaw Adamski, spokesman for the district prosecutor's office in Poznan.

    Counter-protests

    A spokesman for city police, Andrzej Borwiak, told news agency PAP that about a dozen aggressive counter-demonstrators were arrested.

    Some of them threw eggs and chanted slogans such as "We are going to do with you what Hitler did with the Jews," PAP reported.

    The Equality March was organized as part of a dayslong festival in Poznan devoted to promoting tolerance. On Tuesday, local authorities banned Saturday's march, on the grounds it posed a "danger to life, health and property."

    Poland - a conservative country that joined the European Union last year - has been grappling with the issue of how far to go in accepting homosexuality.

    Gay rights rallies in Poland have drawn anti-gay protesters in past years, often resulting in violent clashes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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