2023 European Games will take place in Polish 'LGBT-free' zone

The decision to host the Olympic-affiliated European Games in an area directly at odds with Olympic values has been met with widespread backlash.

Polands European Games committee at a press briefing
Image: Bogusław Świerzowski/ UMK

50 nations will compete in the third European Games, an Olympics-affiliated event, in Kraków, Poland in 2023. Kraków is located in the Małopolska region, an area that joined around 100 other municipalities in declaring themselves an ‘LGBT-free’ zone.

The decision to host the European Games in a city actively opposing the LGBTQ+ community has been met with backlash from politicians.

In September, the Kraków Gazette reported that a group of Member of the European Parliaments published a letter addressed to the European Olympic Committees (EOC) in which they demanded to respect the rights of LGBTQ+ athletes and suggested that the 2023 European Games, scheduled to take place in Kraków, should be held in a different location due to the region’s ‘LGBT-free’ zone status.

Two lawmakers in Britain and Belgium said that the region’s stance makes it an unsuitable venue as it goes against the values of the Olympics.

In response to the criticism, the EOC has insisted they will ensure there is “no discrimination of any kind”, Inside the Games reports.

Belgium parliament addressed the issue with ministers condemning the EOC for the decision to host the event in a place that has declared itself in direct opposition of key Olympic values.

Flemish MP Annick Lambrecht called for Flanders and Belgium to revoke its support for sporting events that take place in anti-LGBTQ+ regions.

While the Flemish sports minister, Ben Weyts, agreed with Lambrecht’s criticism, he said that decisions on where sporting events will be held is made by sporting bodies and not governments.

Weyts said that the decision to host the European Games in Kraków-Małopolska was “incompatible with the values of the Olympic Charter,” which the Olympic Committee has a duty to reflect.

“We are pleased that Minister Weyts acknowledges that for him the attitude of the region goes against the Olympic idea,” Lambrecht replied.

“We hope that he will raise this with the Belgian Olympic Committee and that he will bring the Flemish sports world together, so that the sports federations give a clear signal regarding this problem.

“We expect they will no longer support international sporting events in anti-gay and transphobic regions or countries.”

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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