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These photos highlight the human hurt over Poland's 'LGBT-free zones'

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Bart Staszewski with a "LGBT-FREE ZONE" sign he created for his campaign.
Bart Staszewski with a "LGBT-FREE ZONE" sign he created for his campaign.   -   Copyright  Bart Staszewski   -   Stefaniak
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An activist has released pictures of gay people in front of Polish municipalities that declared themselves LGBT-free.

Bart Staszewski said he wanted to show the real people affected by the crackdown on gay rights in Poland.

His tweet was picked up by liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt, who called on Brussels to take immediate action against Polish authorities.

Last year, 80 municipalities in Poland declared themselves free of LGBTI ideology, pledging to refrain from encouraging tolerance of gay people.

It came as the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party launched a campaign against LGBT rights ahead of parliamentary elections in October.

Bart Staszewski

"I want to show the monster that the politicians are fighting with and that we are not an abstract being, an ideology, but real flesh and blood people who must live in these places," Staszewski said in a statement.

"They are ordinary people, with ordinary lives but perceived by local government as a threat — maybe after this project, they will look differently at these LGBT-people," he added.

'This should not be accepted in the EU'

The activist welcomed the EU's resolution adopted last month in which MEPs condemned the municipalities proclaiming themselves free from LGBT ideology.

The resolution also called on the European Commission "to monitor how all EU funding is used, to remind stakeholders of their commitment to non-discrimination and that such funds must no be used for discriminatory purposes".

"Those zones created by local councils should never be accepted in the EU," Staszewski told Euronews.

Bart Staszewski

"Tolerance and acceptance are European values that some politicians in Poland don't understand.

"I strongly believe that people in Poland are much more tolerant than our politicians are," he added.

MEP Guy Verhofstadt said Staszewski's photographic campaign "makes my stomach turn", urging the "European Commission to take immediate action against these disgusting practices."

Poland is one of six EU countries — alongside Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia — not to issue or recognise same-sex civil partnerships. Hate speech against LGBT people is also not punished by law.

LGBT people regularly come under attack. The archbishop of Krakow warned of a "rainbow plague" during an address in August to mark the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.

A month earlier, a conservative weekly website had announced that it would distribute "LGBT free-zone" stickers.

Bart Staszewski