Polish activist detained for 'offending religious beliefs' over LGBTQ Virgin Mary

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By Rachael Kennedy
Polish activist detained for 'offending religious beliefs' over LGBTQ Virgin Mary

An activist in Poland has been detained after police found posters depicting the Virgin Mary with a halo consisting of the colours of the LGBTQ flag.

The activist, Elżbieta Podleśna, confirmed on Facebook in the early hours of Monday morning that she had been arrested, and her phone confiscated.

Kontakt przez najbliższe dni ze mną tylko via mail. Policja zabiera mi telefon, sorki. Contact me for next few days only via email. The police is just arresting my cell phone.

Publiée par Elżbieta Podleśna sur Dimanche 5 mai 2019

Police had raided Podleśna's home after she returned from a trip with Amnesty International, where they found several copies of the LGBTQ depiction of the Virgin Mary.

She was then arrested on suspicion of "offending religious beliefs", Amnesty said in a statement.

It added: "Given the lack of evidence of a crime here, we can only see that Elżbieta has been detained for her peaceful activism."

The posters had been shared around the Polish city of Płock at the end of April.

Polish Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski said he believed there should be no tolerance offered toward "the right to offend the feelings of believers", saying any critics of this were "very pathetic".

The Twitter account for the Jasna Gora Monastery, where the image of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa — the image that was used in the LGBTQ depiction — resides, said back in April that the altered pictures had caused a "great pain".

Despite the legal action and Poland's deeply Catholic population, Podleśna's arrest sparked protests online as social media users began to share the LGBTQ depiction of the Virgin Mary themselves.

"The rainbow can not offend anyone. Reason and humanity offend those who feel offended by it," one user said.

In response to the widespread reaction, local police released a statement on Tuesday, saying it had "carried out activities defined by law".

"The police are obliged to respond to any notification," it said, adding that it had received a call from a parish priest in April that the "converted image" had been found glued to portable toilets and rubbish bins.