Kilka słów o nas
The first Equality March passed through the streets of Częstochowa in 2018. Its organization was undertaken by a group of local male and female activists, who came together in the informal collective Rainbow Częstochowa.
The event has been held every year since then, with the exception of 2020 – Rainbow Czestochowa then made the difficult decision to abandon the march due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The march was held under the slogans „Solidarity is our weapon, homophobes be gone!” and „Czestochowa does not hide the rainbow!„.
The event annually attracts hundreds of people from the city and the region. Although the march faces hostility from nationalist and far-right circles, as well as the church hierarchy, each time it reaches the finish line, proudly carrying the rainbow through the streets of the city.
First Equality March
The first Equality March took place on July 8, 2018 and passed under the slogan: „Solidarity our defense, let the homophobes chase each other.” It was jointly organized by the Częstochowa structures of the Together party, the group Equality March in Częstochowa and Częstochowa without Prejudice. As one of the co-organizers Malgorzata Mroz recalled, „This year in many cities in Poland the Equality March is taking place for the first time. We want Czestochowa to have its debut as well. It is important that this city is not associated only with pilgrimages of football fans, nationalists and neo-fascists, but also with positive events that promote progressive values.” The march was tentatively scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm, and was to set off from Daszynski Square and proceed to the end of Third Avenue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Several Catholic and nationalist organizations had announced their counter-manifestations, such as: Pro-Right to Life Foundation, National-Radical Camp Częstochowa, All-Polish Youth, Right of the Republic, which caused the organizers to decide to postpone the start time of the march to 11:00 a.m. On the same day, the 27th pilgrimage of the Radio Maryja Family was also taking place at Jasna Gora, which gave the event a special meaning. Due to possible unrest, the organizers ensured that participants arriving from other cities were safely picked up at train stations two hours before the start of the March (at 9:00 a.m.). As 11:00 a.m. approached, the planned speeches began, after which some six hundred participants headed toward the monastery to the rhythm of music and shouts of support from drag queens. Banners and flags of the Together party, Women’s Strike, Modern Party, Citizens of Poland, Democratic Left Alliance, anti-fascist and anarchist organizations were easy to spot in the crowd. The marchers encountered no difficulties until halfway along their route, when nationalists replaced their path at Bielański Square and refused to let the march pass despite the police’s clear demand. So she directed the marchers to another lane of the road, which did not help much, however, because some of the opponents broke the cordon and lay down on the march route, while the rest bypassed the police and stood at the level of the monastery, blocking the march for half an hour. The police eventually managed to cordon off the two demonstrations with a tight cordon, and the march was able to move on. It almost succeeded in reaching its goal, but just before the police on horseback and in the cordon baffled the participants, preventing them from continuing the march and thus forcing the organizers to end it. A little farther on, about two hundred meters closer to the monastery, a counter-manifestation of about 100 people gathered, from where insulting challenges were fired in the direction of the march.
After the march was officially disbanded, the nationalists, not giving up, ran up to the marchers in small groups shouting various slogans at them. In this situation, the police were forced to accompany those dispersing all the way to the station, forming a cordon. During the march an unpleasant situation befell activist Bart Staszewski, who was questioned because he was carrying a flag with an eagle symbol on a rainbow background. He was reported to the prosecutor’s office for insulting national symbols, but the prosecutor’s office refused to open an investigation, seeing no signs of a criminal act in Staszewski’s actions.
Second Equality March
The second Equality March took place on June 16, 2019. This time it took a different route, starting from Sienkiewicza Avenue, which leads to the Jasna Gora Blades, then heading down Pulaski and Sobieski Streets and Liberty Avenue, to then return to Sienkiewicza Avenue via NMP Avenue and Bieganski Square. As in the previous year, the organization of the march was the responsibility of Rainbow Częstochowa, which was supported by the Together Party and the Democratic Party of Poland, among others. The slogan of this year’s march was „Częstochowa does not hide the rainbow!”. The March was scheduled to begin at 2:00 pm, but due to counter-protesters blocking the route, it moved off after a delay of several dozen minutes. As in 2018, several well-known figures, including Archbishop Waclaw Depo, local city councilors and Children’s Ombudsman Nicholas Pawlak, expressed their opposition and appeals to „defend Jasna Gora.” The march was registered in accordance with the law, making it impossible to report legal blockades along the march route. As in the previous year, the Jasna Gora monastery hosted the event organized by Radio Maryja, which was attended by several thousand people. The organizers, bearing in mind last year’s difficulty in reaching the destination, declared, „We guarantee that this year we will march even longer, provide the city with even more energy, and have even more fun ourselves!”. The rainbow procession decorated in flags and slogans „My son’s husband is my family” and „You are my joy, mother,” and carrying a copy of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa and Jesus with rainbow halos continued their march. Unfortunately, the marchers were not lucky with the weather and walked in pouring rain. At around 4:50 p.m., there were again people on the route trying to block the march, the police were forced at one point to use pepper spray to pave the way for the marchers. The march ended safely at its destination before 6 pm.
Third Equality March
The third Equality March took place on August 21, 2021, after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This time the slogan of the march was „Czestochowa is rainbow”. Following the example of last year, the route of the march was led from Henryk Sienkiewicz Avenue (near the border of the monastery grounds with the city grounds) through Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko Street, and then through Jana Pawła II Avenue, Warszawska Street to Ignacy Daszyński Square, and then through Najświętszej Maryi Panny Avenue to Biegański Square. And this year, Rainbow Częstochowa was responsible for the organization, with the support of the organizations: Together Czestochowa, Demokratyczna RP, Anarchist Federation Czestochowa – Autonomous Anarchist Group and Czestochowa Without Prejudice. The organizers conveyed that during the march and beyond they want to „preach and spread love, equality, acceptance, solidarity and anti-fascism throughout Częstochowa.” According to the findings of the police, a large number of whom secured the gathering, about 600 people took part in the march. The number of opponents was estimated at around 200, and its attempts to disrupt the march were unsuccessful. The march began at 2 pm and, without encountering difficulties, lasted about two hours reaching its destination. At the head of Saturday’s march, participants carried a flag referring to the Polish flag, where the red color in the lower field and outline of the national emblem was replaced by the colors of the rainbow. An image of the Virgin Mary in a rainbow halo was also carried for a time. The colorful crowd was led as an announcer by Her Perfection, addressing the participants with the words: „With a dancing step we are going for freedom and equality, and we will walk like this until we win it.” Many rainbow emblems (costumes, flags, pins) were visible in the march, which was mostly attended by young people. The marchers carried banners: „Love is not a sin,” „Yes to the family: every family,” „He is perverted who sows hatred,” and chanted slogans: „Homophobia – it is cured,” „Love, equality, tolerance,” „Czestochowa is open,” „LGBT – we are everywhere,” „Our rainbow does not offend.” They were accompanied by dance music, and representatives of the local structures of the Green party and the Federation of Young Social Democrats gave their speeches, while Jolanta Urbanska, vice-chairwoman of the Częstochowa City Council, among others, also spoke.
Fourth Equality March
The fourth Equality March took place on July 17, 2022. Like the year before, it began at 2:00 pm, and the march route was planned from under – located almost at the foot of Jasna Gora – Sienkiewicza Avenue. Participants then walked along Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko Street, Jana Pawła II Avenue, Warszawska Street and reached Ignacy Daszyński Square, from where they proceeded along Najświętszej Maryi Panny Avenue and reached Biegański Square. Traditionally, the organization of the march was the responsibility of Rainbow Czestochowa with the support of Action Democracy and Democratic Poland. Under the slogan „Czestochowa is rainbow” about 250 people marched through the streets of the city. As in previous years, the organizers appealed, „As every year, we will pass through the streets of the city in a colorful parade, promoting freedom, equality and solidarity. Bring with you colorful outfits, rainbow flags and a dancing mood.” The Fourth March was unexpectedly peaceful, the march was only disturbed by groups of a few people chanting hateful slogans. There were no clashes or pushbacks, as the marchers were assisted by a considerable police force. This year, no image of the Virgin Mary in a rainbow halo was carried in the march.