European Commission President condemns Poland's 'LGBTQI-free zones' as inhumane in her first State of Union address

President von der Leyen outlined plans to strengthen LGBT+ rights and end hate crime and speech with new laws in her first State of the Union address.

State of Union address. Members of the LGBTI Intergroup for MEPS create a rainbow flag with their clothes outside the European Commission
Image: @TerryReintke

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen strongly condemned Poland’s ‘LGBTQI-free zones’ while delivering her first State of the Union address. 

Speaking at the European Parliament Plenary, von der Leyen voiced her commitment towards building “a union of equality”. In her first State of the Union address since being appointed last year, she spoke about climate change, COVID-19 concerns, Brexit, migration, technology, and LGBT+ rights.  

In her speech, the European Commission called out the discriminatory politics of Poland’s ruling party. She stated, “So I want to be crystal clear – LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones. And they have no place in our Union.”

The European Commission President continued, “Because being yourself is not your ideology. It’s your identity. And no one can ever take it away.”

Since the rise of anti-LGBT+ discrimination in Poland, the EU have continously spoken out against this harmful rhetoric. In July 2020, the Commission rejected the applications of six ‘LGBTQI-free’ Polish towns for community funding on the grounds that their discriminatory political stance does not respect “fundamental rights”.  

The European Commission President voiced her commitment to implementing a strategy to strengthen LGBT+ rights within member states. Von der Leyen said, “As part of this, I will also push for mutual recognition of family relations in the EU. If you are a parent in one country, you are a parent in every country.”

A plan will be put forward by the Commission towards stopping the spread of racism and other hateful actions. Von der Leyen stated, “Progress on fighting racism and hate is fragile – it is hard won but very easily lost. So now is the moment to make change. To build a truly anti-racist Union – that goes from condemnation to action.”

To implement this plan, the Commission has proposed extending the list of EU crimes to all forms of hate crime and speech. The President said, “Hate is hate – and no one should have to put up with it.”

Von der Leyen concluded her State of the Union address by sharing, “This is the world we want to live in. The world where we are united in diversity and adversity. Where we work together to overcome our differences – and where we support each other in difficult times.”

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