Pro-gay Polish billboards come down

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com May 28 2003 11:00 PM ET

Billboards promoting positive images of gays and lesbians in Poland were quickly taken down after strong opposition was voiced by religious leaders in the predominantly conservative Catholic country. The image campaign was created by 24-year-old heterosexual photographer Karolina Bregula, who wanted to address the discrimination and oppression of gays in Poland. The billboards featured gay and lesbian couples in affectionate poses, with the slogan "Let them see us." They appeared in several Polish cities beginning last month, with support from the government as well as the Swedish and Danish embassies.

But Catholic groups protested to city officials, and the billboards, which were supposed to stay up for two months, came down after just a week. Some were painted over. Still, gay rights activists say the campaign was a success because it sparked a lively debate about gay rights in Poland's newspapers. "We are the biggest minority in this country, and our image has been distorted," said Robert Biedron, leader of the Campaign Against Homophobia in Warsaw. "For the first time, homosexuals were shown as ordinary people, not as pedophiles from a railway station or freaks from a gay parade."