Activists in Poland have been nominated for a prestigious human rights award for tracking the growth of "LGBT-free zones" in the country.
Dozens of towns and municipalities in conservative parts of the country have been signing declarations over the last two years, declaring they are "free from LGBT ideology" or expressing support for "traditional marriage" — marriage between a man and a woman.
The increasingly anti-LGBT rhetoric in Poland has led to clashes with the EU, which in July withheld funding to some of the areas that had signed the declarations.
In response to the growing number of local governments that had signed the documents, activists launched the Atlas of Hate: an interactive map showing areas that have signed the declarations, as well those that are considering, or ones have rejected them.
Speaking to Euronews after he was nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize with his cofounders, Kamil Maczuga said things are going “in the wrong direction” in Poland regarding LGBT rights.
“People are actually more against LGBT people because of what is said on public television, or [by] the local authorities,” he says.
“We started to think something must be done to stop this” — and so the idea for the map was born.
The activists found that it was often too late to lobby against signings in areas because the progress of declarations was not being monitored. So they gathered data and called on local volunteers in areas considered likely to sign one of the documents to campaign against them.
As the map has gained in popularity, it has slowed down the number of areas signing up, Maczuga said.
He added that the nomination for the EU award is a “great honour” which will help the cause.
“We know we are fighting for a lot of basic human rights in Poland,” he added.