The EU has closed the legal proceedings against Poland over the so-called “LGBT-ideology freedom zones” after only a few local authorities have dropped their anti-LGBTQ+ resolutions.
In July 2021, the European Commission launched legal action against Poland over the adoption by several municipalities in the country of resolutions declaring to be zones free from “LGBT ideology”. The legal proceedings against Poland also entailed the freezing of funding for all the municipalities that were found to be in breach of key EU membership principles, including the protection of LGBTQ+ rights.
“Equality and the respect for dignity and human rights are core values of the EU, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union,” commented the Commission at the time, pledging to “use all the instruments at its disposal to defend these values”.
As reported by Polish investigative journalism website OKO.press, the EU quietly closed its legal proceedings against Poland on January 26. OKO.press quoted EU Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, who, during a recent visit to Warsaw, said that the case against Poland had been “suspended, but not closed”.
However, after questioning the European Commission directly, the newspaper received a response confirming that the case was indeed closed. When it enquired about the reasoning behind this decision, it did not receive an official explanation.
European Commission closed the infringement investigation on anti-LGBT zones. It's huge mistake and disappoint. European Parliament should act.@TerryReintke @MarcAngel_lu @MalinBjork_EU @karmel80 @kimvsparrentak @LGBTIintergroup@GalewskaM@RegioPoland@VeraJourova @helenadalli https://t.co/XlhdVdPX4S
— Atlas Nienawiści / Atlas of Hate ?? (@AtlasNienawisci) February 15, 2023
According to the Atlas of Hate, an online map that tracks Poland’s anti-LGBTQ+ zones, only one-third of the resolutions passed in the country have been withdrawn since the European Commission launched its legal action, mostly due to fear of losing EU funding. 67 anti-LGBTQ+ resolutions still remain in place, with half of them explicitly condemning “LGBT ideology” and the others expressing opposition to same-sex marriage and pledging to “protect children from moral corruption”.
Justyna Nakielska, a member of Polish LGBTQ+ group, Campaign Against Homophobia, said that activists in the country were “surprised” by the decision, given that only in 2020, the Commission received over 400 complaints from Polish citizens regarding the discriminatory resolutions.
“The Polish government did not respond satisfactorily to the European Commission’s letters under the infringement procedure, and the anti-LGBT zones – although gradually being repealed – are still there,” she noted.
“We demand that the commission use the available means…to effectively demand that all discriminatory resolutions be repealed, especially in the context of the new EU financial perspective for Poland,” added Nakielska.
According to unnamed inside sources who spoke to OKO.press, the European Commission allegedly dropped its legal case against Poland because of the adoption of new rules regarding the EU budget. The new rules establish that spending is conditional on compliance with the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and thus, that funding cannot be distributed to national or local authorities that do not comply with its anti-discrimination rules.
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