Metro Weekly

British ambassador combats anti-LGBTQ attitudes in Poland with rainbow mask

British Embassy workers wore rainbow masks created by a Polish gay couple to fight rising anti-LGBTQ animus in the country

poland, embassy, jonathan knott, rainbow, lgbtq

British Ambassador to Poland Jonathan Knott — Photo: British Embassy Warsaw

The United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Poland led embassy workers in a visible show of support for LGBTQ people, despite rising anti-equality sentiments in the Eastern European nation.

Ambassador Jonathan Knott wore a rainbow face mask for the Embassy’s recognition of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

A tweet from the British Embassy’s official account noted that “homophobia is contagious,” in a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic and the rainbow face masks worn by Embassy staff in a video accompanying the tweet.

Anti-LGBTQ sentiments are on the rise in Poland, led by the ruling Law and Justice Party, which has repeatedly targeted the country’s LGBTQ population since assuming power in 2015.

Last month, Polish lawmakers introduced the “Stop Pedophilia” bill, which aimed to ban sex education by labeling teachers as gay activists and pedophiles.

In addition, multiple towns and municipalities in Poland have declared themselves to be “LGBT-free” zones, passing ordinances opposing any recognition of LGBTQ rights.

Alongside wearing his rainbow mask, Ambassador Knott issued a statement paying tribute to Poland’s LGBTQ community.

“While right now we all need to focus on fighting COVID-19, we must not forget to continue protecting the values in which we believe,” he said.

“On International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, we reaffirm our support for efforts to raise public awareness of issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, and pay tribute to the hard work of LGBTI people in Poland, the UK and around the world to ensure human rights and dignity for all.”

Knott added: “We continue to be committed to protecting all people from violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and ensuring that every individual enjoys equal opportunities.”

The masks worn in the Embassy’s video were created by Jacub Kwiecinski and Dawid Mycek, a Polish gay couple who are creating and handing out rainbow masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As reported last month, the couple hope that distributing the masks will not only help their fellow Poles during the pandemic, but prove that LGBTQ people are not the enemies they’ve been made out to be by the government and the media.

A number of other foreign embassies in Poland similarly recognized IDAHOBIT, including U.S. Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, who appeared in a video alongside ambassadors from Canada, Demark, Israel, and New Zealand, among others.

In a tweet sharing the video, the U.S. Embassy Warsaw wrote: “On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, the U.S. Embassy stands with other diplomatic missions in Poland in affirming the dignity and equality of all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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