Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic called for the immediate release of a gay rights activist in Poland on Saturday, saying the detention sent a “chilling” signal.
The order to detain the activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) rights for two months “sends [a] very chilling signal for freedom of speech and LGBT rights in Poland,” she said.
The activist was ordered detained after the van of an anti-abortion group was allegedly damaged with a knife, the driver was threatened and a group of activists tried to stop its loudspeaker announcements.
Anti-abortion advocates regularly drive such loudspeaker vans through the centre of Warsaw, where they also denounce the LGBT movement.
The person detained is also said to have helped place rainbow flags of the LGBT movement on public monuments in Warsaw last week.
News of the detention sparked protests in Warsaw on Friday evening, and police temporarily arrested 48 LGBT activists. Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro defended the arrests by saying that police were only doing what they were supposed as required by the law.
LGBT rights came into the spotlight during the Polish election campaign this year, with President Andrej Duda, who won another term in a run-off, making a number of homophobic statements in a bid to win votes.