Polish police say Elżbieta Podlesna put up posters of the revered Black Madonna that showed the Virgin Mary and Jesus with rainbows from the LGBT flag as the halos. Now she could face two years in prison for offending religious feelings.
Police claim that Podlesna, 51, put up the posters in the small city of Płock, Poland. And they say they found even more posters when they searched her car and home.
Podlesna was detained by authorities as she returned from an Amnesty International advocacy tour.
As a result of the searches, prosecutors are charging her with offending religious feelings. And those charges mean Podlesna faces up to two years in prison if found guilty.
CNN is identifying Podlesna because she has agreed to reveal her name to the media. Normally under Polish law, it is illegal to report the name of a suspect until the trial is over.
Her lawyer, Radoslaw Baszuk, tells CNN they plan on fighting the charges in court. He says that the way in which these paintings were presented, they didn’t publicly insult or desecrate a religious image.
“[She] has not admitted to committing the crime,” her lawyer, Radoslaw Baszuk, tells CNN. “That does not mean that she did not deny participation in this event.”
But police say they’re just applying the law like they’ve done in previous incidents.
The poster has drawn fierce opposition across Poland, where the depiction of the Virgin Mary and Jesus is iconic and revered by Catholics. The Black Madonna resides in the Jasna Góra monastery, one of the holiest shrines in Poland.
“No whim of freedom and ‘tolerance’ gives anyone the right to offend the feelings of believers,” Polish Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński said on Twitter.
Amnesty International says Podlesna was detained for her “peaceful activism.”
“Restricting activists from freely expressing their views in the country is unlawful and must stop immediately,” the organization said in a statement.