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Photography Rebecca Thomas

Activists stand up for Polish LGBTQ+ rights in this defiant portrait series

More Radical Empathy shows the protesters bearing messages of support for Poland's queer community

President Andrzej Duda’s recent re-election has proved disastrous for Poland’s human rights. A right-wing conservative Catholic, the president has repeatedly and emphatically denounced the promotion of LGBTQ+ rights as an “ideology more destructive than communism”.  As he continues to push his deeply homophobic agenda and many regional parliaments declare their districts “LGBT-free zones”, Poland is now the worst-performing country in the EU where LGBTQ+ rights are concerned. 

More Radical Empathy, a project by photographer Rebecca Thomas, is a poignant and inspiring series of portraits of activists from the global queer community in London, bearing heartfelt slogans of resistance against the abhorrent political climate undermining the safety of Poland’s LGBTQ+ citizens.

Having attended a protest outside the Polish Embassy in London this July, Thomas was deeply moved by her conversations with the protesters. “The way that these activists were drawing attention to their basic humanity was pretty powerful,” she recalls. More Radical Empathy evolved as a series of portraits of the extraordinary people she met outside the Polish Embassy that day. 

“I have spent a lot of time with the LGTBQ community here in London. And that community was my safe place for most of my twenties and thirties. Even though I'm a cis, straight woman, I always felt welcomed. And I feel that I should use whatever tools I have to give back to a community that's given me so much,” the New Zealand-born photographer tells Dazed. “If you believe in the same rights for everyone, you should support those who aren't currently enjoying those rights, this goes for any group that is oppressed.” 

Scroll through the gallery below to see portraits from Rebecca Thomas' More Radical Empathy and meet some of the individuals united in their protests against the Polish government.