The city of Lublin in Poland hosted its first ever Pride event this weekend.
However, the parade was marred by violent clashes between police and groups attempting to disrupt the Pride event.
Around 1,500 people took part in the Equality March on Saturday (13 October), according to news site Poland in English.
About 200 counter-demonstrators turned up at the march.
The counter-protesters threw stones and bottles, and several attempted to block the march before being removed by police.
Police used tear-gas and water cannons to disperse the counter-demonstrators, which saw two police officers injured in the clashes.
‘We have arrested several people but I am sure that number will increase,’ said Renata Laszczka-Rusek, a spokeswoman for Lublin police.
‘During the gathering, we provided security for the participants despite the numerous illegal actions of their opponents.’
Participants of the Pride march praised the police’s handling of the situation.
The city’s mayor had banned the march several days ago.
Local news reported that the regional governor Przemysław Czarnek, a member of the anti-LGBTI Law & Justice (PiS) party, called on Mayor Krzysztof Żuk to halt the event due to security concerns.
Czarnek also said that the march promoted ‘sexual behavior incompatible with nature’ and ‘pedophilia’.
However, the Poland’s Court of Appeal overruled the ban on Friday (12 October) due to freedom of assembly laws.
Lubin is not the first Pride event in Poland to experience counter protests or obstructions by the authorities.
In September, a Pride display was destroyed at a street fair in the north-western town of Szczecin. In August, the country’s defense minister referred to a Pride march in the western city of Poznan as a ‘parade of the sodomites‘.
Poland’s LGBTI community faces numerous hurdles in their fight for equality.
While the country has become more LGBTI-friendly in recent years, many aspects of Polish society and politics remain staunchly conservative and the Catholic Church remains highly influential. Same-sex couples still cannot adopt or marry.
Earlier this year, ILGA-Europe ranked Poland at 38 out of the 49 countries polled in an annual review of human rights for LGBTI people.