A French city has suspended ties with its Polish “sister city” after the latter declared itself to be an “LGBT-free zone.”
Last week, the city council in Saint-Jean-de-Braye, a city of 20,000 people in north-central France, voted to defer relations with the Polish city of Tuchow over the declaration in a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
“France is committed to combating human rights violations based on sexual orientation,” the council of Saint-Jean-de-Braye said in an official statement following the vote. “We cannot accept that the ties that unite our two cities by a twinning oath be tainted. We condemn the position taken by our twin city of Tuchow.”
Tuchow Mayor Magdalena Marszalek blames, in part, a declaration, adopted by local councilors from Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice Party, that declares the Tuchow to be an “LGBT-free zone.”
But she also pointed to upcoming local elections in France as another factor motivating Saint-Jean-de-Braye’s decision, reports France 24.
Just as it did in the run-up to European Parliament elections last year, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party has, ahead of its 2020 presidential election, scapegoated “foreign” influences, including immigrants and the so-called “LGBT ideology,” for much of the nation’s problems, including economic angst among the working class and irreconcilable cultural divides between rural and urban areas.
Last year, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, a member of the Civic Platform opposition party, declared the capital city supportive of LGBTQ rights and, as part of that commitment, promised to launch an LGBTQ-inclusive and comprehensive sex education program — based on guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization — in the city’s schools.
In response, 88 municipalities, particularly in rural areas, passed ordinances opposing any recognition of LGBTQ rights and declaring various provinces and towns “LGBT-free zones.”
Law and Justice politicians claim that they have an duty to protect traditional families and children, free speech rights, and religious traditions in the heavily Catholic nation from being “corrupted,” which will occur if they begin tolerating the expansion of LGBTQ rights.
Marszalek expressed regret that severing ties will hamper relations, arguing that Tuchow will no longer be able to sponsor visits by people from Saint-Jean-de-Braye.
She also noted that many in her community do not support the declaration of the city as an “LGBT-free zone.”
“We are not homophobes, this is not a closed commune,” she said. “We are open to life, Europe and it will be so at least as long as I am mayor here.”
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