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Margot is an activist and cofounder of the Stop Nonsense collective.
Margot is an activist and cofounder of the Stop Nonsense collective.

Art-World Figures Demand Release of Queer Activist Arrested in Poland

Cultural figures from Poland and around the world have joined rising calls to release a nonbinary activist arrested for allegedly vandalizing a van and assaulting its driver, whom signatories suggest was spreading anti-LGBTQ propaganda. On August 7, the district court in Warsaw ordered the prosecution and two-month pretrial detention for Margot, the 22-year-old cofounder of the collective Stop Nonsense (Stop Bzdurom), which combats LGBTQ shame by covering homophobic banners and public monuments with queer flags. 

An open letter published by theorist Paul B. Preciado, artist Ewa Majewska, and critic Wojciech Puś—signed by over five hundred people including prominent artists, curators, and scholars—says that the van was marked “Stop Pedophilia,” a slogan used in an ultraconservative campaign equating pedophilia with homosexuality and approved by the country’s government. Last Friday, 48 demonstrators were also detained by Warsaw police as they brutally dispersed mass peaceful protests throughout the capital that formed in solidarity with Margot following news of her detention. 

The Polish government has taken a far-right turn in recent years, a development that critics worry is endangering the country’s democratic institutions (including art museums). Nationalist President Andrzej Duda’s recent and successful reelection campaign was buoyed by a campaign promise to defend “traditional families.” “Margot’s arrest is part of a larger governmental and police operation to curtail and degrade the rights of sexual and gender minorities and to suppress all forms of critical antagonism,” the letter reads. “This is a call to all international free forces to act now against the institutional violence of Western so-called democratic governments, polices, and institutions.”