Kaska Paluch. Photo / Magdalena Łukasiak

Polish Stonewall? Are we fed up enough?

OPINION Recent events in Poland are a signal that the LGBTQ+ community no longer wants to be a whipping boy. The one who is afraid to stand up to his classmates beating him, because there is ten of them, and he is just by himself. Tired, frustrated, angry and desperate, driven by years of humiliation, aggression and discrimination, people took to the streets not to proudly march through the city. But to give back to those who beat them this time.

This attitude puts the entire LGBTQ + community in a difficult position, because there is no place for the anger of a gay, lesbian or transgender person, even among so-called allies. Those who so far “did not mind” now DO mind, because a rainbow flag hung on the sculpture of Christ (“profanation”). Or when an activist from “Stop Bzdurom” (“Stop the Nonsense”) stopped the van that has been spreading awful lies about LGBTQ+ commu-nity, yanked the driver out of the cockpit and blurred the insults on the tarpaulin. For many, it is an exaggeration, it is escalation, it is profanation, it is too much.

Those who are really on the side of LGBTQ+ are outdoing each other on social media in inventing ways to trigger empathy. “Imagine” – they write – “that a truck has been driving around Warsaw for weeks, on the tarpaulin of which it says that people with the name are mostly pedophiles raping children. You know it’s not true, there are even scientific studies to show it’s not true. You’re trying to intervene, report to the police – the van continues to drive around the city. How long can you take it before you yank the driver out and blur the crap out?” – they ask.

“Almost all of south-eastern Poland voluntarily adopted homophobic symbolic laws in order to protect against “destroying values, like a traditional family, i.e. a union of only a woman and a man”. The “LGBT-free zone” covers over 30 percent of Poland.”

I don’t know if it helps. Probably not, because more and more often I read comments like “I’m for tolerance, but destroying vans is an exaggeration” – also among my seemingly open, understanding and supportive friends. For me, too, any form of violence or aggression is something that should be avoided at all costs. In this case, however, we are not talking about attack, but about self-defense.

At least they don’t kill

One of the most read comments is that the LGBTQ+ community fighting for tolerance is in fact the most intolerant itself. Meanwhile, among LGBTQ+ people, the limits of tolerance were so stretched that it began to resemble the symptoms of the Stockholm syndrome. When the first, historic Equality Parade was crossing the street of Białystok, and the counter-demonstrators shouted “get the fuck out!”, a colorful parade called “come with us!”. When President Andrzej Duda said in the election campaign “LGBT is not people, it’s ideology” – we were showing “hey, we are people. It’s not an ideology, it’s the boy who showed you the way on the trail”. When another father beat the shit out of his gay son, he would not fight back – after all, it is the father. He lived under the same roof with his pur-suer or ran away and hid. When another lesbian was raped as part of a “corrective rape”, she resorted to mental illness, drugs and suicide attempts. We hide, we huddle, we pre-tend that we are not there, as long as we do not disturb, as long as they do not see us, as long as they do not hit us. We are starting to appreciate the very fact that we can live in hiding. You fear for holding your girlfriend’s hand, kiss your boyfriend? It’s nothing, it’s important that they don’t beat us. Our relationship will never be legal, in the light of the law we will always be strangers to each other? Well. But at least the neighbors don’t leave us crap on the doormat.

I don’t know when it started to build up. Was it when, after the Sekielski brothers’ film about the scale of pedophilia among priests, the counterattack of the ruling party and the Church was to equate pedophilia with homosexuality? Was it when Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski compared the LGBTQ + community to the cholera epidemic, talking about the “rainbow plague”? Or maybe when, during a football match at the stadium, we saw the slogans “Warsaw free from fags”. Or when, in Białystok, the Equality March was bru-tally attacked with the tacit consent of the authorities and less silent encouragement of the Church. When homophobia, aggression against non-heteronormative people, symbolic, verbal and direct violence crawled out of their channels and supported by the power apparatus, blind police officers, spilled in the street. By making the lives of LGBTQ + people not only unbearable, but downright endangered.

“We, the LGBTQIA community in Poland, are fed up with repression and intimidation, aggression by the Polish authorities and the police.”

I wonder which suicide – of those publicized by the media – of people who could not stand the homophobic torment, was the one that spilled the cup. Perhaps it was a teenage Kacper, who hanged himself on his own laces, because as a gay he had to “diagnose” himself using internet quizzes. Because someone threatened to beat him. Because in Poland, sex education is a fiction. Or when the transgender Milo jumped into the river be-cause she couldn’t live “like that” anymore.

30 percent of Poland is “free of LGBT”

Or maybe when the idea of introducing sex education to schools, the one by WHO guide-lines, was called an attempt to “sexualize children”, “learn masturbation”? Maybe because teachers who have tried to teach children to say “no” to an adult, or that homosexuality is just normal, could be punished even with imprisonment. I can’t tell.

I wonder if this anger started to pump into the hearts of the LGBTQ + community as cities, municipalities, and entire provinces proclaimed themselves “LGBT-free zones”. Because almost all of south-eastern Poland voluntarily adopted homophobic symbolic laws in order to protect against “destroying values, like a traditional family, i.e. a union of only a woman and a man”. The “LGBT-free zone” covers over 30 percent of Poland.

The scale of violence against LGBTQ + people in Poland is shocking. The Penal Code does not provide a penalty for an attack on a homophobic background. According to the data of the Campaign Against Homophobia for 2016, almost 70 percent of non-heteronormative people have come across some type of such violence (and the situation is getting worse year by year). Every second LGBTQ + teenager has symptoms of depression, almost 70 percent thought of suicide. There is no prohibition of pseudo conversion therapies in Polish law. Civil partnerships, marriages, and the adoption of children by same-sex couples are illegal – the latter, according to the promises of the President An-drzej Duda, is to be subject to a constitutional ban.

Inviolable homophobic truck

As a symbol of this festival of contempt, humiliation and hideous slander, a truck appeared on the streets of the Polish capital. The megaphone shouted messages about pederasts, about homosexuals raping children. The same slogans dazzled the eyes from the tarpaulin. After being reported to the police, the truck was escorted but returned to the streets. In the end, Margot with the activists from “Stop Bzdurom” collective, took matters into their own hands. For painting the tarpaulin with a spray and taking the driver out of the truck, the court decided on a two-month preventive detention. The arrest warrant was issued on August 7. That day Margot was waiting for the police at the headquarters of the Campaign Against Homophobia. Activists, MPs from the Left and the Green Party were also waiting. Margot went to the police to submit herself to the punishment voluntarily, but the police … didn’t take her. All the gathered people went to Krakowskie Przedmieście, where Margot was captured, handcuffed and hidden in a police car. The crowd surrounded the police car – people sat on the ground and chanted slogans of solidarity.

The police began to brutally disperse the crowd. Some people were dragged out and handcuffed. One of the MPs described how she had to cover a girl with her own body, who was knocked to the ground and then held by standing on her back and head. The detainees were transported to the police stations, the who and where was not informed, the immunity of the opposition deputies who came to the rescue was ignored. Lawyers and families were also not allowed. A round-up was organized and even more people were arrested. The Human Rights Defender Adam Bodnar and representatives of the Na-tional Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture were forced to intervene.

Last year, several thousand people took part in the Independence March in Wrocław. The march went 200 meters, after which it was stopped and terminated due to, among other things, anti-semitic slogans and the use of pyrotechnic materials. Firecrackers, bottles and stones flew towards the police. As a result, three officers were injured. 14 people were detained. “The most aggressive.”

Let me remind you that on Friday, in Krakowskie Przedmieście, the demonstrators surrounded a police car, sitting on the ground. Someone jumped on the police car. Over 50 people were arrested, including people from the round-up, some of them had nothing to do with the protest.

Your silence will not protect you

“What happened yesterday is not normal and is a clear violation of human rights,” we read in Campaign Against Homophobia’s statement entitled “Polish Stonewall?” – Yesterday’s riots are the result of a two-year campaign against LGBT people in Poland. The brazen homophobia of the authorities that did not hesitate to use any means of violence to intimidate us. We have experienced unprecedented abuses by the police and disproportionate direct coercion measures. The escalation of violence continues and we are being targeted. We, the LGBTQIA community in Poland, are fed up with repression and intimidation, aggression by the Polish authorities and the police”.

Is this already a Polish Stonewall? I don’t know, but it is certain that we have reached the turning point. The moment when the level of frustration can no longer be adjusted. I will watch with horror and hope what happens in the weeks and months to come. And even louder than before, the words of Audre Lorde echo in my head: “My silence will not protect me. Your silence won’t protect you”. Looks like we’re starting to get loud.

Photo / Magdalena Łukasiak

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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