Metro Weekly

Three Polish regions scrap ‘LGBT-free zones’ after EU threatens to pull funding

The European Commission has launched legal action against Poland over its violations of LGBTQ rights

poland, lgbt-free, europe, european union
Photo by Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash

Three regions in Poland have voted to cancel resolutions declaring themselves to be “LGBT-free zones.”

With local authorities seeing pushes for gay rights as an affront to traditional Catholic family values, nearly 100 regions in Poland passed anti-LGBTQ resolutions in 2019, which the EU said violated discrimination laws.

The European Commission later threatened to pull up to $150 million in funding for five local governments if they didn’t cancel the resolutions.

In response, Podkarpackie, Lubelskie and Malopolskie scrapped their declarations on Monday. Another region, Świętokrzyskie, did so last week.

The resolutions had largely been symbolic ammunition for Poland’s culture war. Led by anti-LGBTQ populist Viktor Orban and his right-wing Law and Justice party, the country does not legally recognize transgender people or same-sex relationships, or allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro had called the EU’s pressure “an attack on Poland and local governments, saying it “amounted to blackmail.”

The Polish Press Agency reports that after a debate, councilors in Malopolskie voted to “oppose any discrimination against anyone for any reason,” declaring support for “every Malopolskie family” in a new resolution.

In an interview with BBC, Bart Staszewski, a Polish LGBTQ activist, praised the repeals while underscoring the need for further action.

“Politicians are playing with us. I mean, they don’t want to revoke the whole resolution, they just want to replace it with another one,” he said.

“We have heard many disgusting things during this debate,” he added. “It’s clear for me that it’s not enough, that we still need to fight.”

In March, the European Parliament voted to declare the entire EU an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone” in response to Poland’s “LGBT-Free Zones.”

In July, the European Commission took legal action against Poland and Hungary for “violations of fundamental rights of LGBTIQ people.”


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