Dozens of protesters tried to stop Polish police from arresting a gay rights activist in Warsaw on Friday after a court ordered the campaigner held for two months preventive detention.
The activist, who was referred to officially in court as Michal Sz. but who identifies as a woman with the name Margo, is suspected of causing criminal damage to a van carrying homophobic slogans in Warsaw in June.
The activist is also accused of pushing a volunteer from the Pro-Right to Life Foundation which owned the van.
Margo was detained at the offices of Campaign Against Homophobia but dozens of protesters then blocked the police car, prompting a stand-off before officers cleared the way to allow it to pass.
“During the arrest of the activist, the crowd impeded the actions of the police. Interventions are being made against the most aggressive people. There will be zero tolerance for breaking the law,” Warsaw police wrote on Twitter.
The police later said they had made arrests.
Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, a spokeswoman for prosecutors, was quoted as saying by the news channel TVN24, that a court had “ordered the detention of this person for a period of two months”.
The PAP news agency quoted Margo as saying before the arrest that the preventive detention, a measure normally used to stop another crime being committed, was “repressive”.
Hanna-Gil Piatek, a leftist lawmaker, was at the scene.
“I wish serious criminals were prosecuted as diligently as activists.”
Margo belongs to a campaign group called Stop The Nonsense, which is also suspected of draping several Warsaw monuments, including a statue of Jesus Christ, with LGBT flags and anarchist symbols last week.
Prosecutors have charged three people in that case for desecrating monuments and hurting religious feelings.
The van from the Pro-Right to Life Foundation is a common sight in the centre of Warsaw, blasting homophobic slogans and plastered with posters linking homosexuality to pedophilia.