Despite opposition from the town’s inhabitants, authorities in Kielce, located in southern Poland, put up several LGBT-colored benches that have ended up being repainted in the colors of the local football team. Fifteen benches were meant to be installed in Kielce by the end of the year as a part of the Participatory Budget, which is a special budget designated to help pay for citizens to realize their ideas and projects. Their total cost was €33,000. The project generated pushback from most of the town, and as a result, changes were introduced to the Participatory Budget regulations.
In May 2020, Kielce’s City Council, at the behest of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, introduced amendments which entail that the budget’s projects must be “compatible with the rules of social co-existence and ideologically neutral.” Eleven PiS councillors were in favor of the amendments, while 10 Civic Coalition councillors opposed it. Three independent councillors abstained. However, the project was opposed not only by PiS councillors. The town’s citizens decided to take matters into their own hands and repainted the benches just a few days after their installation. It is assumed that fans of the town’s football club — Korona Kielce — were involved as the benches now have the club’s colors which are also the town’s official colors: gold and red. “One of the rainbow benches placed in Kielce was repainted into red and yellow colors. Does it look better now?” news portal Nasze Kielce posted on Facebook, sharing a picture of one of the repainted benches. One of the commentators under the post criticized the whole project of installing rainbow-colored benches, writing, “This is how it ends where instead of supporting democratic projects of the majority of society, town authorities in the name of political correctness impose the projects of minorities which have nothing to do with ethics and morality.” Unlike much of Western Europe, the majority of Poles have a conservative stance on a range of hot-button social issues. Polling shows that the majority are opposed to same-sex marriage, abortion, and adoption by same-sex couples.
Title image: The LGBT colored bench in Kielce’s park, source: twitter.com/@pawel_boron