Three Polish regions revoke anti-LGBT declarations

People take part in the Equality March, an LGBT community pride parade, in Lodz, Poland, 26 June 2021. [EPA-EFE/GRZEGORZ MICHALOWSKI]

Three Polish regions on Monday (27 September) revoked their self-proclaimed status as “LGBT-ideology free zones” after the European Union launched legal action and threatened to withhold funding.

The regions of Krakow, Rzeszow and Lublin in the south and east of the country all cancelled their declarations in a coordinated move, following the lead of the Kielce region which did so last week.

In July, the European Commission launched legal action against the governments of Hungary and Poland in response to a series of measures seen as discriminatory towards LGBTQ citizens.

Hungary brought in a so-called “anti-paedophilia” law into force earlier this year, which among other things bans the “promotion” of homosexuality and gender reassignment to under-18s.

And in Poland, around 100 regions, towns and villages covering about a third of the country had declared themselves “LGBT-ideology free zones”.

The communities concerned are mainly located in traditionally very Catholic parts of the country.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen last year said these areas were “humanity-free zones” and had “no place in our union”.

Brussels had put on hold talks with five of the regions over their application for cash from the EU’s pandemic recovery fund.

EU warns Polish regions they could lose funding over 'LGBT-free' zones

The European Commission has written to five Polish regional councils urging them to abandon declarations that they are “LGBT-free” in order to receive funding, one of the councils affected confirmed on Monday (6 September).

‘Not enough’

Following the repeals by the regional parliaments on Monday, the campaign group Atlas of Hate said that 16.5% of Polish territory was still covered by “LGBT-ideology free zones”.

“It’s clear for me that’s it’s not enough, that we still need to fight,” Bart Staszewski, a leading LGBTQ rights activist, told AFP after the votes.

Staszewski drew attention to the issue by signposting Polish towns that had voted in favour of the move as “LGBT-free zones” in protest.

“These zones of exclusions of the LGBT people should never exist, especially on Polish soil,” he said.

“With our history we should be the leaders of telling about the respect, tolerance, acceptance, the diversity and equality.”

In the Rzeszow region, local lawmakers voted for a declaration opposing “hate and discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, handicap, ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation”.

The declaration also underlined the importance of traditional family values and said Christianity was “the foundation of the Polish state and of our membership of the European community”.

Commission goes after Hungary, Poland over LGBTQI+ rights

The European executive launched three proceedings against Hungary and Poland over what it sees as violations of fundamental rights of LGBTIQ+ people on Thursday (15 July), leaving Budapest and Warsaw two months to respond to its concerns.

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