European Parliament condemns 'LGBT+ free' zones in Poland

With an overwhelming vote in favour, the European Parliament has condemned the development of 'LGBT+ free' zones in the country.

Police escorting Pride Parade in Poland due to homophobic attacks, which the European Parliament has condemned

The European Parliament (EP) has strongly condemned the recent developments of areas ‘free from LGBTI ideology’ in Poland and urged local authorities to revoke attacks on equal rights.

With an overwhelming vote of 463 in favour to 107 against, MEPs of the European Parliament expressed their concern over the rise of homophobic attacks and condemned actions taken by the Polish Government. The meeting drew upon examples of recent homophobic statements reiterated throughout referendum campaigns in Romania and elections in Estonia, Spain, UK, Hungary, and Poland. 

The European Parliament have called on the European Commission to monitor funds to ensure spending is not going towards discriminatory practices.

Advocacy Director of ILGA-Europe, Katrin Hugendubel, said, “We very much welcome that the European Parliament with this resolution condemns these worrying developments and speaks out clearly in solidarity with the LGBTI communities across Europe.”

Hugendubel further stated, “Europe is at a dangerous crossroads. Certain groups and organisations are overtly turning the tide on LGBTI and other minority rights, seeking to replace democracy and diversity with ‘traditional values’. In this context of rising hate and attacks on LGBTI rights, it is more important than ever to reconfirm and strengthen the commitment from the EU institutions to work on protecting LGBTI rights.”

In April 2019, leader of Poland’s Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, spoke about how LGBT+ ideologies were a threat to the family structure. He stated, “We are dealing with a direct attack on the family (and) on children: this sexualizing, the LGBT+ movement, everything together with gender (theory), this whole movement questioning every kind of affiliation.”

Following on from Kaczynski’s comments, local governments across Poland declared their regional areas free of LGBT+ ideology in July 2019. 

Local Polish newspaper Gazeta Polska announced their July edition would include stickers featuring a black cross over a pride flag, with the words ‘LGBT-Free Zone’. After the release, major companies pulled advertisements from the press after a Twitter campaign Stop Funding Hate was launched. 

The European Parliament are calling on the Polish authorities to take action against the rise of homophobia throughout the country. As stated in an EP press release, “These local governments have issued non-binding resolutions pledging to refrain from taking any action to encourage tolerance of LGBTI people and saying they would not provide financial assistance to NGOs working to promote equal rights.”

MEPs have also spoken out against homophobic attacks, bullying, and comments being made within schools. As highlighted by a recent BeLonG To Youth Services’ School Climate survey, 73% of Irish LGBT+ students feel unsafe in secondary school. 

An EP press release stated, “MEPs recall that schools should be places that reinforce and protect the fundamental rights of all children. They call on the Commission and member states to take concrete action to end discrimination that can lead to LGBTI people being bullied, abused or isolated at school.”

There has been a renewed call for implementing an EU Directive on non-discrimination, which has been blocked by EU ministers for the past 11 years. Though MEPs acknowledge that legal measures are in place throughout member states, the implementation is still lacking and leave LGBT+ people vulnerable. As stated, a concise legal act “would help fill this gap in protection.”

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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