Poland’s LGBTQ protests are glimmers of hope in an illiberal dystopia | Agniezska Holland and Olga Tocarczuk

Showdowns between Polish activists and its ultra-conservative government could help build a more tolerant future

Agnieszka Holland is a film director and president of the European Film AcademyOlga Tocarczuk is a writer and laureate of the 2018 Nobel prize in literature

If you want to understand the currents of change shaping our world, look to the periphery. Countries and people pushed to the margins teach us a lot about the health of democracy. They paint a picture steeped in paradox. As storytellers from one of these strange borderlands of western culture, we have made it our life’s work to truffle-hunt for narratives of hope and perseverance in dark places. Our homeland, Poland, is filled with such stories.

Take Elzbieta Podleśna, a veteran civil rights activist, who was drawn to Płock, a town in central Poland where the clergy wields unchecked political power. She led a group protesting against a church exhibition that encouraged believers to battle against so-called LGBT sins. Overnight they plastered posters of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow-coloured halo around the church – and promptly drew the fury of the police, the Catholic church hierarchy and lawyers brandishing the blasphemy laws.

Agnieszka Holland is a film director. She is an Academy Award nominee, president of the European Film Academy and a board member of the Equaversity Foundation. Olga Tokarczuk is a writer and laureate of the 2018 Nobel prize in literature. She is 2018 Man Booker International prize winner and a board member of the Equaversity Foundation

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