Taking a stand

British ambassador to Poland wears rainbow face mask for LGBTQ rights

UK Ambassador to Poland, Jonathan Knott
UK Ambassador to Poland, Jonathan Knott (Photo: UK Government)

Yesterday (May 17th) was International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT): an annual event to highlight anti-LGBTQ discrimination around the world.

One country which has some way to go in regards to LGBTQ equality is Poland. Although same-sex sexual activity is legal, and there’s an equal age of consent, same-sex marriage is not allowed and there is a lack of anti-discrimination laws.

Local lawmakers recently also allowed regions to declare themselves as “LGBTI-free zones”: a move widely condemned by other European countries. Despite the condemnation, around a third of municipalities in the country have adopted the LGBTI-free zone status.

Related: A third of Poland has declared itself “LGBTQ-free zones” 

In the wake of this, the team at the British Embassy in Poland decided to visibly mark this year’s IDAHOBIT. Staff, including Ambassador Jonathan Knott, wore rainbow face masks.

In a statement, Knott said, “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.

“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.

“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.”

Related: Meet the brave guys of Warsaw trying to make Poland safe again

Knott also tweeted a short video of other ambassadors to Poland marking IDAHOBIT. It included photos of Ambassadors from Canada, New Zealand, Austria, Denmark, Iceland, as well as Georgette Mosbacher, the US Ambassador to Poland.

In the clip, Mosbacher holds a rainbow flag with the words: ‘We support equality for all’. The US Embassy in Warsaw shared the same video on its Twitter feed, and Mosbacher re-tweeted it.

US Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher
Georgette Mosbacher, US Ambassador to Poland (Photo: Twitter)