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February 17, 2021 6:55 AM EST

As LGBT rights are increasingly attacked by Poland’s right-wing leadership, Bart Staszewski is emerging as a symbol of resistance. Since co-organizing the first-ever “Equality March” in 2018 in his hometown of Lublin in east Poland, Staszewski, 30, has been raising awareness about the growing number of small towns that passed non-binding resolutions banning “LGBT ideology.” His strategy: traveling to those towns and taking photos of LGBT people standing in them, near signs he made that read “LGBT-free zone” (a colloquial term for the towns). Staszewski says he hopes the photographs will show Polish politicians—and the world—that “we are not an abstract being, an ideology, but real flesh-and-blood people who must live in these places.” The goal, he says, is to “change reality.” After Staszewski shared the photos online, they were reposted by several members of the European Parliament, helping draw international attention. In January, Nowa Deba—a town that he visited—withdrew its anti-LGBT resolutions. Staszewski hopes it is the first of many. —Madeline Roache

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