EU Parliament declares Europe an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone in response to homophobia in Poland and Hungary

The pushback against homophobia happens as Poland plans to bar LGBTQ+ people from adopting children.

The flag of the European Union

With 492 ballots in favour and 142 against, the EU Parliament has adopted a resolution declaring Europe an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone, responding to the rise of homophobia in EU member states such as Poland and Hungary.

Describing Europe as an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone is in reference to the over 100 local authorities in Poland calling themselves ‘LGBTIQ-free zones’. These areas have declared themselves free of queer ‘ideology’, with local governments refraining from encouraging tolerance of the LGBTIQ community and denying financial aid to organisations promoting equality.

Towns in Hungary have started to follow suit, in November of last year, Nagykáta banned ‘‘dissemination and promotion of LGBTIQ propaganda,” while in December, a range of measures further stripped rights from LGBTIQ people.

The EU resolution was the work of the LGBTI Intergroup – a cross party group working in the EU Parliament. Poland has responded with anger to the move, denouncing the resolution and saying the EU is overstepping its bounds and that the country is entitled to uphold its traditional family values. Those apparent values include their recent introduction of a new law which will bar same-sex couples or single lesbians and gay men from adopting children.

Mere hours before the EU passed its resolution, the Polish Deputy Justice Minister, Michal Wojcik, announced, “We are preparing a change where … people living in cohabitation with a person of the same sex could not adopt a child, so a homosexual couple will not be able to adopt a child.” Authorities will now also vet single people looking to adopt, making sure they aren’t living with someone of the same sex.

These actions are encouraging hatred, violence and bigotry, argued MEPs. While in the past, EU funding has been blocked from ‘LGBTIQ-free zones’ under the twinning programme, MEPs want the European Commission to go further, using its power to protect the LGBTIQ community under threat.

Just before the resolution was passed, German MEP, Terry Reintke, from the Greens, addressed the room and spoke to those who opposed equal rights. “You call us lunatics. You call us an irrelevant minority. You call us perverts. You call us an ideology. When all we ask for is equality.”

Reintke continued, “You scapegoat our communities when all we ask for is safety. You attack our families. You tell people we are a threat. You deny us the right to be who we want to be when all we ask is freedom. But we will not give up just because you keep attacking us.

“This declaration might only be a first step. We know our lives are still in danger, our rights restricted, our freedoms brutally suffocated in far too many places in the European union. But it is a step. We are many, we are everywhere and we are strong.”

Following the decision by the EU Parliament, MEPs released the statement, “LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the EU should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination or persecution, and authorities at all levels of governance across the EU should protect and promote equality and the fundamental rights of all, including LGBTIQ persons.”

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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