Residents from the conservative Polish town of Konskowola have claimed the EU may be trying to blackmail them.
The local council joined approximately 100 other municipalities across rural Poland in declaring themselves “free of LGBT ideology”.
In early June The European Union warned Poland that it may cut its pandemic relief funding due to the anti-LGBT+ discrimination currently playing out in the country.
Several residents including Konskowola Council head Radoslaw Gabriel Barzenc have responded to this with anger citing discrimination.
“The restrictions could be implemented because people have an opinion. Isn’t this discrimination? Is this what European tolerance is about? I don’t think so. I cannot imagine we would yield to blackmail,” Barzenc said.
Earlier this month, openly homophobic Andrzej Duda was re-elected as Poland’s President in a closely won contest has left the LGBT+ community and its allies deeply worried about what lies ahead.
In the run-up to the election, Duda proposed a constitutional ban on LGBT+ couple’s ability to adopt children.
The situation in Polish towns was discussed at the EU summit which started in Brussels on Friday.
The evening before the summit, Prime Minister fo Luxembourg Xavier Bettel said:
“If we accept that you condemn a sexual minority, tomorrow it will be religion, the day after it will be race,” he said.
In the town of Konskowola, 70% of the 2,000 residents voted for Duda.
“The EU should not withdraw its funds,” said Urszula Nowak, a 76 year-old pensioner who has lived her entire life in the village.
“It would mean the EU was against our faith. The majority of Poles are Christian after all,” Nowak said.
Poland had received approximately €36 billion from the EU in aid since it joined in 2004 which it has used to improve living standards following World War II and four decades of communism.
26 year-old Honorata Sadurska is a bisexual woman from Konskowola and believes that the rise in homophobia will continue but opposed funding cuts in her town.
“It’s happened that I was pushed on the bus or that someone has yelled something not nice to me. Is it because of the council’s declaration,” she said. “I don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg. It will only isolate such places further.”
The backlash against the rise of homophobia in Poland has also resulted in a city in the Netherlands officially ending its sister city relationship with a Polish town that declared itself an “LGBT free zone”.
“Setting the gay-free zones is a serious business and our council has issued a very clear statement that this is not acceptable,” town council member Marieke Schouten is quoted in The Guardian. “We are a rainbow city. And we are both part of Europe, in which we believe that whoever you are, regardless of your orientation, you can be there in public space. It does not include a gay-free zone.”
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