"They sue me for "violating their good name" and demand 24.000$ financial compensation for pro-family associations"

Interview mit Kuba, Autor des polnischen Atlas of Hate

"LSBTI-freie Zone" - mit diesem Label rühmen sich inzwischen fünf Regierungsbezirke, 37 Landkreise und 55 Gemeinden in unserem Nachbarland Polen. Auf dem "Atlas des Hasses" (Atlas nienawisci) haben polnische Aktivist*innen diese Städte verzeichnet. Nun werden sie wegen Rufschädigung verklagt, u.a. von der ultrakatholischen Lobby ordo luris. Wir haben mit Kuba, einem der Autor*innen gesprochen.

"LSBTI-freie Zone" - mit diesem Label rühmen sich inzwischen fünf Regierungsbezirke, 37 Landkreise und 55 Gemeinden in unserem Nachbarland Polen. Auf dem "Atlas des Hasses" (Atlas nienawisci) haben polnische Aktivist*innen diese Städte verzeichnet. Nun werden sie wegen Rufschädigung verklagt, u.a. von der ultrakatholischen Lobby Ordo Luris. Wir haben mit Kuba, einem der Autor*innen gesprochen.

Kuba, more and more cities in Poland claim proudly to be so called “lgbt-free zones” – it is really worrying. Poland seems to be extemely divisive regarding lgbti-rights. You are one of the authors of the “atlas of hate” that  names all the cities and municipalities that label themselves “lgbt-free”. What was your motivation behind it? 

We wanted to show an overall phenomenon that is not easy to trace due to its scale and dispersion. Resolutions are adopted at various levels and often did not break through to the public beyond the local level. Showing this phenomenon on the map made it possible to visualize its scale. The form of the map turned out to be easier to receive (data was already available in the spreadsheet) and helped to popularize knowledge of these resolutions.

How did you become an activist?

My adventure with activism began 16 years ago, when I went to the first equality march in Krakow in 2004. 

I am socially active because I assume that politicians will not give us the good of civil rights. They need to be forced by our constant grassroots organized pressure. Until 2015, my activism was basically limited to signing petitions and an annual trip to the Parade in Warsaw. After the PiS won, the number of protests and social actions increased sharply, I took a part, not only as a passive participant. I co-organized, among others black protests and two equality marches in Rzeszów. And recently I co-run Atlas of Hate.

After publishing - What were the consequences for you personally but also for the cause?

A simple, pictorial representation of homophobic official documents on the map has significantly increased public interest in the subject of anti-LGBT resolutions in Poland. Screenshots circulated in the media, stirring up lively discussions in the comments. Anti-LGBT resolutions, which were to be limited only to the local electorate, became known throughout the world. I suppose that Atlas slowed down the pace of adopting subsequent such resolutions.

And that caused direct consequences for me - an announcement of the trial against Ordo Iuris on behalf of at least five local governments - counties (poviats) in Opoczno, Przasnysz, Tarnów, Przysucha and commune Gromadka. They sue me for "violating their good name" by showing them in the Atlas. In their view, excluding LGBTI projects from local government projects is not homophobic. The five municipalities will demand among others a financial compensation for pro-family associations in a total sum of 24 000 USD.

We have already confirmed that these local governments have already granted powers of attorney at Ordo Iuris. For now, we are waiting for lawsuits which, according to the announcements from their newsletter, were to be on their way to us three weeks ago. However, no proceedings have yet begun.

How safe do you feel?

Ordo Iuris wants to intimidate me, but the lasting years trial, is nothing terrible compared to what I experienced on the Białystok equality march. I don't feel like I am doing anything wrong. My site does not defame anyone, but only presents facts based on official and public documents. So I should be calm about the outcome of the trial.

But I realize that I have an organization against me that has a big budget and growing influence in the government. Suffice it to mention that the people associated with Ordo Iuris have recently consulted the Ministry of Justice anti-violence law. In addition, they filled the positions of the interim chairman of the Supreme Court and in the government commission for combating pedophilia.

The relationship between Ordo Iuris and the Ministry of Justice, which imposes a muzzle on the courts, raises legitimate concerns as to whether the trial will be fully fair and pressure free. It will be difficult to escape from the questions of what will win - law or their power.

Germany has more than 300 twin cities and twin regions in Poland. How could we use these partnerships to support the Polish community?

If the 25 polish municipalities with german partners wants wipe out visibility of LGBTI topics from their local life - the 300 german municipalities can response for that by making the topics visible in their relations with their polish partners. 

German local government officials may, among others:

  • talk to Polish councilors about the importance of equality, invite them to participate in events related to this subject,
  • include equality elements in youth exchange programs of other events, etc.
  • involve their equality officers more closely in contacts with Polish partner local governments,
  • meet local Polish LGBTI activists on delegations and invite them to their offices,

They can act in many ways, in accordance with the capabilities of local governments and the ideas of councillors, officials and activists cooperating with them. Of course, contacts on this subject should be based on facts, without deceiving the vague slogans of Polish local government officials playing for time.

Thank you and all the best!

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