WARSAW, Poland — Lawmakers in Poland on Friday voted to send a bill that would ban Pride marches and other pro-LGBTQ events to committee.

“(The) Polish ruling party voted in favor of further work on a bill with total ban in Pride parades and public gatherings that promote LGBT rights,” said Bart Staszewski, a Polish LGBTQ activist, in a tweet that specifically referenced President Andrzej Duda’s Law and Justice party. “Now the Parliament commission will check the legality of this bill. It is a very dark day for Polish democracy and LGBT people.”

OutRight Action International in a press release notes the measure states “any event which questions marriage as a relationship between a woman and a man or propagates the extension of marriage to persons of the same sex can not go ahead.” The Life and Family Foundation, which opposes LGBTQ rights and abortion, collected more than 140,000 signatures in support of the bill. 

“This is a very dark day in Poland, not only for LGBTIQ people, but for Polish society as a whole,” said acting OutRight Action International Executive Director Maria Sjödin. “Prides are a crucial element of the movement for LGBTIQ equality, and, moreover, they are an expression of the right to freedom of assembly and expression. As such, Prides serve as a litmus test—whether or not a state allows and protects a marginalized, often discriminated community to hold an event such as Pride, is indicative of the health of their democracy.”

“Poland is failing that test today,” added Sjödin.”We call on the relevant Parliamentary committee to reject the proposed bill in its entirety.”

Friday’s vote took place against the backdrop of increased tensions between Poland and the European Union over LGBTQ rights.

The European Commission in September threatened to withhold more than 126 million euros ($145.59 million) in funding from five provincial governments that have enacted so-called LGBTQ “free zones.” The Polish Constitutional Court on Oct. 7 ruled the country’s laws supersede EU statutes where they differ.

Duda ahead of his 2020 re-election said LGBTQ “ideology” is more harmful than communism. Duda has also described LGBTQ Poles as a “threat to the family” and claimed they “want to sexualize children.”

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