Mr Gay Europe and Poznan Pride marred by anti-LGBTQ hate


Police keep protesters at bay (Pic: Cobus Benade)

The crowning of Mr Gay Europe and the Poznan Pride celebrations in Poland over the weekend were marred by anti-LGBTQ protests.

On Saturday night, Mr Gay Germany, 30-year-old Enrique Doleschy, won the title of Mr Gay Europe 2018 in the event’s 12th edition, held in the city of Poznan.

The runner up was Niels Jansen from Denmark. He made history by being the first transgender man to take part in the contest.

“Mr Gay Europe is not a beauty contest,” said Mr Gay Europe President, Tore Aasheim. “We are looking for genuine and real-life role-models for our LGBT communities across Europe and we are honoured by the fact that a trans person wanted and felt comfortable enough to take part. Niels proved himself to be a positive and significant addition to the group of delegates.”

Keeping out of site from demonstrators (Pic: Coenie Kukkuk)

The importance of LGBTQ visibility and activism in Europe was highlighted earlier in the day at the Poznan Pride Parade, which was attended by the contestants. Two South Africans, Gayspeak editor Coenie Kukkuk and photographer Cobus Benade, were also there, representing the country on the Mr Gay Europe judging panel.

The group was caught up in anti-Pride protests by right-wing demonstrators who hurled abuse at the participants, shouting anti-LGBTQ slogans such as “homosexuals must die”.

A large number of riot police were in place to protect the pride-goers. At one point, the Mr Gay Europe contestants were forced to hide at the top of a double-decker bus on which they were taking part in the parade. The demonstrators also attempted to storm the parade and were held back by the police.

“We are all safe,” Kukkuk told Mambaonline. “There were riot police all alongside the parade and about six police vans at the front and back, and about one police officer for every 10 Pride marchers. We were well protected. I’ve never seen so many police accompanying any march anywhere.”

Mr Gay Europe 2018 Enrique Doleschy with runner up Niels Jansen

Earlier, Kukkuk revealed that the Mr Gay Europe delegation had to have a security escort whenever they ventured out onto the streets in Poland due to safety concerns. “We had police protection every moment we stepped out of the hotel in Warsaw. Poland is not accepting of LGBT people,” he said.

Poland, which is predominantly Catholic, is among the most conservative countries in Europe when it comes to LGBTQ people. The Polish Constitution bans same-sex marriage, and there is no legal recognition for same-sex relationships. A February 2014 opinion poll found that 70% of Poles believe that same-sex sexual activity “is morally unacceptable”.

Police barrier forming between anti-LGBTI+ protestors and #poznan #pride

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