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Next hearing in lawsuit against Bart Staszewski scheduled

Status: 
On Trial
About the situation

On 30 September 2021, the court of the Zakrzówek Commune (Lublin Voivodeship) was due to consider the defamation case against LGBTIQ+ rights defender Bart Staszewski. However, citing technical reasons, the hearing has been postponed until 25 November 2021. The authorities of the Zakrzówek Commune have accused the human rights defender of carrying out a defamation campaign against the Commune, after the he placed multilingual signs with the slogan “LGBT-free zone” under the official road signs of the areas that have voted in support of the homophobic bill against LGBTIQ+ ideology in 2019.

About the HRD

The next court hearing in lawsuit against human rights defender Bart Staszewski in the court of the Zakrzówek Commune (Lublin Voivodeship) is scheduled for 25 November 2021. The case against Bart Staszewski was initiated by a senior civil administrative officer of Zakrzówek municipality on 21 September 2020

Bart Staszewski is a Polish LGBTIQ+ defender and documentary film director. In 2017, he produced a documentary film Article18 about the Polish LGBTIQ+ community’s struggle for equality. Bart Staszewski is one of the founders of Lublin Equality March Association and organisers of the Equality March in Lublin, a peaceful demonstration which is met with riots and protests from members of the right-wing every year. He is also member of the Love Does not Exclude, a national non-governmental association which which is committed to introducing marriage equality in Poland. His work for the LGBTIQ+ community has been recognized internationally. In 2019 he was awarded the European Tolerantia Award.

17 November 2021
Next hearing in lawsuit against Bart Staszewski scheduled

The next court hearing in lawsuit against human rights defender Bart Staszewski in the court of the Zakrzówek Commune (Lublin Voivodeship) is scheduled for 25 November 2021. The case against Bart Staszewski was initiated by a senior civil administrative officer of Zakrzówek municipality on 21 September 2020. The human rights defender is accused of carrying out a defamation campaign against the Zakrzówek Commune after he placed multilingual signs with the slogan “LGBT-free zone” under the official road signs of the areas that have voted in support of the homophobic bill against “LGBTIQ+ ideology” in 2019. If found guilty, Bart Staszewski would be required to make a public apology on social media and on other media outlets, and pay financial compensation to the plaintiffs. Similar cases were initiated by senior administrative officers of the Tuszów Narodowy and Niebylec municipalities in September and October 2020. The dates of these hearings are yet to be scheduled.

Since 2019 Bart Staszewski has been targeted by a smear campaign in Polish media involving statements by high ranked state authorities, accusing him of “spreading fake news” and being “radical” and “aggressive.” According to recent report by the Media Monitoring Agency, the Polish Public TV has issued approximately 140 statements about Bart Staszewski, of which only 11% were neutral and none were positive. He is also targeted by a hate campaign on Facebook and Twitter as a result of his work as a human rights defender. Front Line Defenders is concerned at the judicial harassment and targeting of Bart Staszewski in response to his work defending LGBTIQ+ rights in Poland, and calls on the authorities to drop all charges against him.

 

5 October 2021
Trial of LGBTIQ+ rights defender Bart Staszewski

On 30 September 2021, the court of the Zakrzówek Commune (Lublin Voivodeship) was due to consider the defamation case against LGBTIQ+ rights defender Bart Staszewski. However, citing technical reasons, the hearing has been postponed until 25 November 2021. The authorities of the Zakrzówek Commune have accused the human rights defender of carrying out a defamation campaign against the Commune, after the he placed multilingual signs with the slogan “LGBT-free zone” under the official road signs of the areas that have voted in support of the homophobic bill against LGBTIQ+ ideology in 2019.

Download the urgent appeal.

Bart Staszewski is a Polish LGBTIQ+ defender and documentary film director. In 2017, he produced a documentary film Article18 about the Polish LGBTIQ+ community’s struggle for equality. Bart Staszewski is one of the founders of Lublin Equality March Association and organisers of the Equality March in Lublin, a peaceful demonstration which is met with riots and protests from members of the right-wing every year. He is also member of the Love Does not Exclude, a national non-governmental association which which is committed to introducing marriage equality in Poland. His work for the LGBTIQ+ community has been recognized internationally. In 2019 he was awarded the European Tolerantia Award.

On 30 September, the case of Bart Staszewski was scheduled be heard before the court of Zakrzówek Commune (Lublin Voivodeship) but was rescheduled for 25 November 2021 due to technical reasons. The human rights defender has been accused of defamation against the Zakrzówek Commune in response to the signs ““LGBT-free zone”” he placed in communes who voted in favour of the homophobic bill discriminating against the LGBTIQ+ community and limiting their personal freedoms. If convicted, he may be asked to apologise publicly or to financially compensate the victims.

In 2019, about 50 municipalities in Poland declared themselves “free of LGBTIQ+ ideology”, pledging to fight against “LGBTIQ+-ideology” and to promote and protect “tradition and Christianity”. Bart Staszewski started a project aimed at attracting attention to the homophobic bills and contributing to public discussion about them in Poland. He created a multilingual “LGBT-free zone” road sign and travelled across Poland to take pictures of the names of homophobic towns with his sign and posted photos on social media. The human rights defender's public campaign attracted a lot of attention and several Polish politicians, including the Prime Minister of Poland, called it defamatory and provocative. The representatives of Zakrzówek, Tuszów Narodowy and Niebylec municipalities lodged complaints against Bart Staszewski accusing him of defamation under Article 23 of Civil Code.

Front Line Defenders believes that the charges brought against Bart Staszewski are solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work against discrimination and in defence of the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in Poland.