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, either declaring themselves to be free from LGBT ideology, or expressing support for traditional families, specifically 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 have signed these declarations, activists launched the Atlas of Hate: an interactive map showing the areas that have signed the declarations, as well as the ones that are considering it, or ones that have rejected it.
Speaking to Euronews after he and his fellow co-founders of the project were nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, 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 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 the signing of the declaration in areas, because the progress wasn’t being tracked. So they gathered data, and called on local volunteers in areas at risk to campaign against the declarations.
Since the map started to gain popularity, it has slowed down the number of areas signing up, Maczuga says.
He adds 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 says.