Parada Równości (Polish, "Equality Parade") is an LGBT community pride parade held in Warsaw since 2001, usually in May or June. It has attracted at least several thousand attendees each year; 20,000 attendees (the largest number of any year) were reported in 2006, following an official ban in 2004 and 2005.
It has been described as "the first Europewide gay pride parade held in a former Communist bloc country". Support for the parade is slowly growing in Poland; with the 2005 event supported by 33% of the Warsaw inhabitants, and 2010, by 45%.
The organizers of the parade want to promote social equality in general, and draw attention to the problems faced by the LGBT community in Poland. Its organizers, including Szymon Niemiec (who founded the event in 2001), stress that the parade is meant to highlight not only the LGBT movement, but the rights issues of all minorities.
Though efforts toward an LGBT parade in Poland were made at least as early as 1998, Poland's first successful parade, in Warsaw, was organized in 2001 through the efforts of gay rights activist Szymon Niemiec. The second and third parades were held in 2002 and 2003. That year there were some 300 marchers. The 2002 parade was estimated to have at least 1500 attendees, and the 2003 event attracted about 3000.
In 2004 and 2005 officials denied permission for the parades, citing the likelihood of counter-demonstrations, interference with religious or national holidays, lack of a permit, and other reasons. The parades were vocally opposed by conservative Law and Justice party's Lech Kaczyński (at the time mayor of Warsaw and later president of Poland) who said that allowing an official gay pride event in Warsaw would promote a homosexual lifestyle. In protest, a different event, Wiec Wolności ("Freedom Veche"), was organized in Warsaw in 2004, and was estimated to have drawn 600 to 1000 attendees. In response to the 2005 ban, about 2500 people marched on 11 June of that year, an act of civil disobedience that led to several brief arrests.
The 2006 parade was held without official interference, and is estimated to have gathered about 20,000 attendees. In May 2007 the ban has been declared discriminatory and illegal by the European Court of Human Rights' Bączkowski v. Poland ruling. That month, the 2007 parade gathered about 4000 attendees.
The 2008 march attracted "several thousands" again, and the 2009, "over 2000". In 2010 the event was not held, as Warsaw hosted the international EuroPride event, drawing about 8.000 crowd. This event was organized privately and required an entrance fee, which was the cause of controversy.
The parades have been organized regularly since, in 2011 (with about 4000 to 6000 attendees), 2012 (5000 attendees) and 2013 (8000 attendees, many calling for the recognition of same-sex unions in Poland). The 2014 parade is planned for May.
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