The plaque with the inscription "LGBT free zone" was hung under the border mark of Tuszow Narodowy at the end of July. This happened shortly after the publication of a scandalous letter from Andrzej Głaz, the commune's mayor to the Polish Ombudsman, in which he stated that the LGBTQ community is a "rainbow plague" and a "diabolical ideology" that deserves worse punishment than Sodom and Gomorrah.
The plaque was written in several languages. It was placed by Bart Staszewski, a Lublin-based activist working for the rights of sexual minorities, who is protesting against the homophobic actions of the local authorities. The activist is famous for hanging the plaque with the inscription "LGBT-free zone" wherever local authorities have adopted anti-LGBT declarations.
"I will not be bullied by the Law and Justice party or the police, so I continue to take pictures of homophobic local governments. Today, a photo from Tuszów Narodowy, where the councillors and the mayor have been particularly disgusting towards sexual minorities". - Staszewski wrote on Facebook just after the plaque was placed in Tuszów in July.
What do the homophobic practices of the Tuszów commune consist of? It all began with the adoption of the declaration "local government free from LGBT ideology" by the municipal council in April 2019.
"The radicals striving for a cultural revolution in Poland attack the freedom of speech, the innocence of children, the authority of family and school and the freedom of entrepreneurs. This is why we will consistently defend our local community! - The councilors justified their decision. In a declaration signed by them, they announced that, guided by the virtues of "family and freedom", they would not interfere in the private sphere of life of Poles and Polish women. In the next sentence, however, they assured us: "We will not allow to have exaggerated problems and artificial conflicts that the LGBT ideology brings with it imposed on us.
Adam Bodnar, the Polish ombudsman, intervened in the case of the scandalous document. In a letter addressed to Tuszów's mayor, he called for the councilors to withdraw from the homophobic declaration. In his reply, Andrzej Głaz, the mayor, explained that he would not fulfill his request, because the withdrawal of the declaration would be tantamount to "taking the side of the rainbow plague, which is the aforementioned diabolic ideology, and agreeing to the demoralisation of the young generation, starting from kindergarten.
The municipal authorities therefore adopted the anti-LGBT declaration, but felt offended by the plaque.
- Our commune began to receive words of condemnation, questions about how we can discriminate against people, why we are racists, etc. through all information channels. There were a lot of hateful e-mails and phone calls, not only expressing condemnation for the fact that we are allegedly an "LGBT-free zone", but also with hatred directed at me, the authorities and residents of the commune," says Andrzej Głaz, the Mayor of Tuszów Narodowy.
- I could not believe that these people could react in such a way on the basis of this plaque. What is more - it seems that those who saw this photo believed that there are some sort of segregation regulations in our commune, as if it was World War II under the German rule. The fact that Staszewski published such a picture, that he attached this plaque with this inscription, is even worse for us because our town is the birthplace of General Władysław Sikorski, Prime Minister of the Polish Government in exile during World War II. This plaque, this photo is a blow to our patriotic heritage, to the symbolism that the General's figure carries. No one in Tuszów Narodowy is discriminated against. Poland is a country of freedom. There is no consent for lying accusations of segregation of people, for equating the inhabitants of Tuszów with the Nazis, with the Germans from World War II - Głaz argues.
The Zakrzówek Municipality Council adopted the "Resolution against LGBT ideology" in May 2019. - We decided to take legal action against Mr. Staszewski because his description of our municipality as an "LGBT-free zone" is a lie that suggests that there is discrimination or segregation of people in our municipality based on sexual orientation criteria. Nothing of the sort is happening," states Józef Potocki, head of Zakrzówek municipality.
The mayor adds that the Zakrzówek commune welcomes everyone willingly: tourists, investors, and has no prejudices against anyone. Staszewski, on the other hand, in his interpretation of the document passed by the council, abuses the freedom of speech by presenting the Zakrzówek commune as a place of homophobic atred and discriminatory practices.
- The problem is not the activists who bring attention to these resolutions, but the local government officials who invented them and who voted for them. It is high time to withdraw from them - comments Bart Staszewski. The activist assured on his social media profile that he would continue his initiative and visit other municipalities. "I have nothing to fear, because the truth is on my side. On the side of the councillors, there is only a homophobic, nonsensical resolution which harms and divides the inhabitants of their communes. Councillors are thoughtless and are guided by party interests instead of the good of all inhabitants. Councillors - shame on you!" - he concludes.
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