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Bart Staszewski

HRD, Film Director
Lublin Equality March Association

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.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Poland work for the protection and promotion of variety specific issues of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. However, the most problematic issues are the following: police misconduct, corruption, inefficiency and lack of the independence of the judiciary, laws that restrict freedom of speech and assembly, violations of workers' rights, discrimination against women, societal discrimination and violence against ethnic minorities, gays, lesbians, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI).

Although Poland is one of the 127 UN member states who voted for the adoption of the resolution on the protection of the HRDs during the 70th UN General Assembly, the state’s constitutional guarantees for respect of international human rights law, as well as the conditions for work of HRDs have been significantly threatened with the introduction of several restrictive legislative changes since Autumn 2015. Some of the changes, such as the law on assemblies amended in December 2016, as well as the centralisation of state funding for non-governmental organisations, directly affect the work of HRDs. Under the amended legislation, the government is entitled to abuse the right to freedom of assembly and speech, and deprive state funding from human rights organisations critical of the state’s compliance with the international human rights law and democratic principles.