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Polish LGBT activist ranked in TIME’s “100 emerging leaders”

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Warsaw, Poland – Polish LGBT activist, filmmaker and photographer Bart Staszewski has been chosen by TIME magazine as one of the “100 emerging leaders” of 2021 shaping the future.

Bart Staszewski, 30, was responsible for organizing the first ever Equality March in his hometown of Lublin, eastern Poland, in 2018, and has since then publicly called out and criticized Polish towns and cities that have passed resolutions “banning the LGBT ideology”.

“As LGBT rights are increasingly attacked by Poland’s right-wing leadership, Bart Staszewski is emerging as a symbol of resistance,” TIME editors wrote.

Described by Poland’s de-facto leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski as a “foreign ideology” that threatens traditional Polish values, LGBT rights have become one of the most divisive and hot-button issues in Poland in recent years, with critics accusing the national-conservative government led by the Law and Justice (PiS) party and government-friendly media of a coordinated campaign against members of the LGBT community.

According to last year’s Rainbow Index, Poland ranks as the worst country in Europe for LGBT rights and protection of LGBT people.

Travelling around Poland and taking pictures of LGBT people in front of so-called “LGBT-free zones” signs, Bart Staszewski is hoping to change the narrative to show that “we are not an abstract being, an ideology, but real flesh-and-blood people who must live in these places.”

In January, Nowa Deba became the first town he visited to have withdrawn its resolution banning the LGBT ideology. You can follow M. Staszewski’s actions on his Facebook page.

Other famous figures included in TIME Magazine’s 2021 list of 100 emerging leaders include singer Dua Lipa, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, US poet and activist Amanda Gorman, Queen’s Gambit actress Anya Taylor-Joy and Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

TIME Magazine’s third annual list of emerging leaders pays homage to 100 people shaping the future in business, sports, entertainment, politics, science, health, culture and advocacy. You can find the full list here.