“Above all, they are our brothers and sisters”

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Poland's bishops' conference has condemned the attacks by hooligans on the first gay rights march in Bialystok. Aggressions like this must be clearly rejected, says the spokesman for the Bishops' Conference.

"Violence and contempt cannot be justified and accepted under any circumstances," their spokesman Pawel Rytel-Andrianik said Sunday evening. In the 300.000-inhabitant city, far-right soccer supporters had attacked the approximately 800 LGBT demonstrators with bottles, paving stones and firecrackers over the weekend. Police temporarily arrested 25 hooligans, according to the Interior Ministry.

Call for prayers in the cathedral

Rytel-Andrianik quoted the president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki: "These people are not first and foremost gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals – they are first and foremost our brothers and sisters, for whom Christ gave his life and whom he wants to lead to salvation."At the same time, one must proclaim the whole Gospel and not stop "calling mortal sin what it is in essence"".

The Archbishop of Bialystok, Tadeusz Wojda, had called for prayers in the cathedral parallel to the march – "for the defense of the Christian vision of man, the family and the very highest good, children". Together with Orthodox Archbishop Jakub, he also invited people to a family picnic. About 400 people took part in the rally, according to the Polish news agency KAI. According to the report, they carried banners with slogans such as "Stop cultural Marxism". In all, there were about 40 counter-events to the so-called Equality March.

Archbishop Wojda: Categorical no to LGBT demos

Interior Minister Elzbieta Witek stressed that the police will always react firmly to violations of the law: "There was and is no permission for rowdy behavior."EU Council President Donald Tusk took to Twitter to blame the Polish government for the riots: "Hooligans, anti-Semitism, homophobia – nothing new. The tragedy is that power is their patron."

Archbishop Wojda had said "categorically no" to the demonstration for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in a statement read in all churches of the archdiocese on the first weekend of July. One must not allow that sacred values are mocked and religious feelings are hurt with impunity. At these parades, participants caused offence with their "uncensored attitudes and clothing," especially among children and young people, Wojda said.

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