Although the number of equality marches has been increasing in recent years, both the right to peaceful assembly and the security measures taken to protect those participating in marches are being curtailed (‘Situation of LGBT people in Poland’, RPO). Violence and discrimination against LGBT+ people have increased in Poland over the past few years, which is related to the acquiescence to hate speech and homophobic rhetoric by those in power (FRA, 2020). In 2019, there were 30 marches, including five originally banned by local authorities and six with counter-manifestations that involved violence. Meanwhile, the responsibility for security falls primarily on those organising the marches. At the same time, after all, many of them do not have the experience or legal knowledge to fend off attacks from right-wing organisations – moreover, they increasingly face activist burnout.
The project organised the Congress of Marching Cities, a meeting of people organising equality marches from all over Poland, during which the Coalition of Marching Cities was formed. The meeting was attended by 70 people from 30 cities. It was a space for networking and sharing experiences. In response to reported needs, workshops were organised on, among other things, counteracting activist burnout and adapting events to the needs of people with disabilities. A website with information on the movement was also launched and a guidebook for first-time marchers was published. Six regional trainings were also held, with topics tailored to the specifics of the region, as well as a webinar on the law on assemblies.
As a result of the project, the Coalition of Marching Cities with its Secretariat was established. People from collectives organising equality marches were able to meet each other, share knowledge on organising safe and inclusive events and strengthen coordination and communication competences ahead of the marching season. Collectives organising marches for the first time also took part in the Congress. The Congress was a ground-breaking networking event, a platform to share knowledge and experiences and a step towards making equality marches more accessible and safer.