Stefan Kunze via

Poland has seen a rise in anti-LGBTQ sentiment in recent weeks.

A Polish archbishop has claimed that a “rainbow” plague is affecting Poland in a sermon that has created more division in a country where anti-LGBTQ sentiment is already rife.

In the sermon, the archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jedraszewski, said: “Our land is no longer affected by the red plague, which does not mean that there is no new one that wants to control our souls, hearts and minds.

“Not Marxist, Bolshevik, but born of the same spirit, neo-Marxist. Not red, but rainbow.”

Poland has been gripped by a wave of anti-LGBTQ sentiment recently, which spilled over when violent protesters attacked a Pride march in Biaĺystok.

Marchers were attacked with rocks, glass bottles and firecrackers. Amnesty International released a statement, saying the Polish police force had failed to “provide adequate protection for the participants” and alleged that officers had “failed to respond to instances of violence.”

A Polish newspaper, Gazeta Polska, came under fire recently after it was revealed that it planned to distribute ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers. The stickers show the rainbow flag, but with a black cross superimposed over it.

The move was criticised by many, including the United States Ambassador for Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, who wrote on Facebook: “I am disappointed and concerned that some groups use stickers to promote hatred and intolerance. We respect freedom of speech, but we must stand together on the side of values such as diversity and tolerance.”

The Warsaw district court ruled against the newspaper and demanded it stop the distribution of the stickers. The editor of the paper, Tomasz Sakiewicz, called the ban “the greatest act of censorship in the history of the Third Polish Republic.”

The publication of the stickers has also cost Gazeta Polska advertisers with Squarespace, insurance company Ergo and lingerie company Bravissimo all confirming that they have pulled ads from the paper.

Poland isn’t a bastion for LGBTQ equality, with Rainbow Europe ranking the country 39/49 on its LGBTQ equality index.

And last year, the country’s president, Andrzej Duda, said he would support a ‘gay propaganda’ law coming into place, similar to the existing one in Russia.

Following the cancellation of pro-LGBTQ events that were due to take place in some Polish schools, and organised by the Campaign Against Homophobia, he said: “I think that this kind of propaganda should not take place in schools, it has to be calmly and consistently opposed.

“If such a law was created and would be well written, I do not exclude that I would approach it seriously.”

Related: Gay Polish MP challenges government over lack of LGBTQ rights