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French Minister for European Affairs Clément Beaune publicly came out as gay in an interview in which he promised to support LGBTQ communities in Poland that are currently struggling under the current right-wing populist government.
“I am gay, and I have no problem saying it,” Beaune told the French gay magazine Têtu in response to a question on LGBTQ rights in Europe. He said he did not believe acknowledging his sexual orientation was incident, nor was it an obstacle to becoming a minister.
In the interview, Beaune promised he would visit a Polish “LGBT-free” zone early next year, in order to highlight the discriminatory phenomenon in which hundreds of municipalities have refused to acknowledge the existence of the LGBTQ community or their civil rights, according to Politico.
“As Secretary of State for European Affairs, I have an additional responsibility,” he said. “I have to fight to spread tolerance.”
He added: “I come from a family in which people were deported because they were Jewish, only two generations ago. That resonates with me,.
“However, I wouldn’t want people to say I am fighting against ‘LGBT-free’ zones because I’m gay. It would be insulting to say I am leading that fight for myself.”
Beaune’s predecessor, Amélie de Montchalin, wrote in an op-ed in Politico in June that “Europe should be leading by example,” condemning any type of discrimination that exists, including hostility to LGBTQ rights.
The phenomenon of LGBT-free zones has spread throughout Poland in recent years, as various cities and regions, particularly those in more rural areas, have attempted to ban the promotion of LGBTQ rights, deeming it a form of “propaganda” that runs counter to the right-wing government’s attempts to promote family structure and increase birth rates.
The ruling Law and Justice Party has cast LGBTQ rights as a “threat” to traditional values and Catholicism, which for years was an essential part of Polish identity.
But their actions have also sparked a backlash, leading some “sister cities” in more progressive nations to sever their ties with their Polish counterparts in protest of the creation of LGBT-free zones.
The zones have also been harshly criticized by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, himself a Roman Catholic, which could lead to frosty relations between Poland and the world’s top superpower if the government continues to enforce the policy.
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