will.i.am and Apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas wear rainbow armbands on the Polish broadcast
will.i.am and Apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas wear rainbow armbands on the Polish broadcast (Photo: YouTube)

Black Eyed Peas have prompted praise and condemnation in Poland after standing up for LGBTQ rights.

The US band appeared on the country’s high-profile, live, New Year’s Eve TV show. Just  days earlier, former Spice Girl Mel C had pulled out of the same “New Year’s Eve of Dreams” gig in Zakopane. The country’s state broadcaster transmitted the show to an audience of around 8.3 million.

Mel C said at the time, “In light of some issues that have been brought to my attention, that do not align with the communities I support, I’m afraid I will no longer be able to perform in Poland as planned on New Year’s Eve. I hope to be back there very soon.”

Related: British ambassador to Poland wears rainbow face mask for LGBTQ rights

The Black Eyed Peas went ahead with their performance on the show. When they hit the stage to perform their hit “Where Is The Love”, the four members—Apl.de.ap, J. Rey Soul, Taboo and will.i.am—wore rainbow armbands.

Before launching into the song, will.i.am said, “We dedicate this song to people who have experienced hate this year: Jewish community, we love you, Africans around the world, we love you, LGBTQ community, we love you.”

Watch below.

Far-right politicians express disgust

Notorious homophobe Marcin Warchol, Deputy Justice Minister and a member of Poland’s Law and Justice Party (PiS), was among those to express horror.

Warchol took to Twitter to call the display of LGBTQ rights a “disgrace.” Many other Twitter users expressed disgust, although many LGBTQ advocates welcomed the performance.

According to ILGA-Europe’s 2022 report, LGBTQ rights in Poland are the worst among European Union countries, largely due to the country being strongly influenced by Catholic moral doctrines.

will.i.am retweeted Warchol’s message with a response, saying, “#WHEREStheLOVE??? Unity, tolerance, understanding, oneness, respect, diversity & inclusion…THATS LOVE…people are people & we should all practice to honor & love all the different types of people on earth & learn from them…I LOVE YOU your country…”

Related: Trump congratulates Poland’s homophobic President on his re-election

Warchol responded, “Then why didn’t you boycott the Qatar World Cup over the treatment of women, migrants and the LGBTQ+ community in the country? You were selling principles for profit. Hypocrisy.”

Will.i.am responded: “We went to these places to spread LOVE… why boycott when you can go directly to the source to be inspired and do your best to inspire them and spread LOVE… that’s called love.”

will.i.am says the band will perform “Where Is The Love” everywhere

The rapper also posted a video on his Instagram stories, defending wearing the armbands and performing in Poland.

He said, “We are the Black Eyed Peas… not the Black Eyed PiS. We stand for unity, love, tolerance, oneness. Listen to our music. Songs like ‘Union’, ‘One Tribe’. Sometimes you’ve got to go where people don’t have the same views to inspire them on difference, to inspire them on what tolerance looks like. And so it’s been great being here. Poland is an awesome country. My times coming to Poland have always been awesome.”

On Twitter, he went on to further defend his band’s performances in UAE and Saudi Arabia, among other countries.

Related: Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski slams Poland’s “absurd” LGBTQ crackdown

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