In 2019 about 50 municipalities in Poland declared themselves „free of LGBT ideology”, pledging to refrain from encouraging tolerance of LGBT people. During city-council politicians voted in favor of homophobic statements where they declare to fight with “LGBT-ideology” and protect “tradition and Christianity”.
To create attention to homophobic resolutions I created a sign and I traveled across Poland to signpost proud Polish towns that declared as so called LGBT-free zones.
By this action I created an international attention to homophobic bills and national discussion about homophobia in Poland. I got three lawsuits for my projects and one the of trials starts now.
The Zakrzówek Commune accuses me of infringing the Commune’s personal rights (defamation). I was responsible for conducting the action “LGBT-free zones in Poland”, which consisted of placing a board with the multilingual inscription “LGBT-free zone” under the official road signs with the name of the place, then publishing photos with such signs, in his social media. It was my answer to homophobic bill „against LGBT ideology” that was introduced by local authorities. The trial starts 30 of September.
The Zakrzówek lawsuit is one of three lawsuits I got and that is part of SLAPP tactic. There are also lawsuits from Tuszów Narodowy and Niebylec municipalities. All of them are politically motivated to silence and intimidate me and create a chilling effect on other activists. Trails will happen in different part of Poland and are connected to high legal costs of defense I need to pay.
The municipality accuse me of defamation and want apologizes in the international media outlets: Guardian, The New York Times, Charlie Hebdo and many others.
The muncipality is represented by The Polish League Against Defamation. It is a right-wing, nationalist NGO based in Warsaw. It was founded in 2013 by Maciej Świrski. The organization has close ties to the ruling Law and Justice Party. The Daily Telegraph, The Times of Israel, The Jewish Chronicle, and The Jerusalem Post have all described the
organization as nationalist in nature. According to Amnesty International’s Poland researcher, Barbora Černušáková, it is a „nationalist organization close to Poland’s
government”. Maciej Świrski – CEO of The Polish League Against Defamation, at the same time is a board member of Polish Press Agency (the company is 100% owned by the State Treasury, with people nominated by government)
Place: Sąd Okręgowy, I Wydział Cywilny w Lublinie (hearing will be online but I will be in court, media can request for a link)
Date: 30 Septmeber 2021 r. time: 11:30
The case signature: I C 1059/20
Court spokesperson (Barbara Markowska, firstname.lastname@example.org, +48 695 038 109 or email@example.com)
Court media office (+48 81 46 01 001 email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
(activist) mounted the sign near the official name of towns, took pictures, that falsified reality. To say fake news about something like that is definitely not to say anything. It was a deep fake used by a man who is a stranger to the sexual minorities, because they know that they can demonstrate without any obstacles, demonstrate their rights.Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister (28.09.2020 during Press Conference)
Bart Staszewski’s activity is the most disgusting kind of defamation of Poles. An enemy of Poland and its citizens.Maciej Świrski, CEO of Anti-Defemation League (Twitter)
A scandalous provocation by Bart Staszewski for which he must be held accountable in a court. I am glad that there are municipalities that sue the activist for slandering the good name of Poland.Przemysław Czarnek, Ministry of Education (24.09.2020 during TVP interview)
Scandalous provocation and making a hate abroad.Arkadiusz Mularczyk, Law and Justice MP (Twitter)
Bart Staszewski grew up in Lublin, in East Poland. Staszewski is Polish LGBTI+ activist and documentary film director. In 2017 produced a documentary film – Article 18. It is the most important documentary to date on the LGBT struggle for equality in Poland.
Staszewski was awarded for his activism. In 2020 Bart was selected to be an Obama Leader. Obama Leaders are emerging leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the common good. Leaders tackle a diversity of issues, but they have a lot in common—they have all driven positive change for their communities, are guided by core values, and share the Obama’s Foundation’s vision of leadership rooted in service to others.
Staszewski was also among Bloomberg Businessweek „Ones to Watch” 2020 List, list associated with „the Bloomberg 50.” In February 2021, he appeared on the Time 100 Next 2021 list of emerging leaders shaping the future by the American news magazine Time.
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