Polish councillors vote to uphold town's 'LGBT-free zone' label despite global condemnation

Several Polish LGBT+ activist groups called on the European Commission to take immediate action against towns proclaiming themselves as 'LGBT-free zones'.

A rainbow projected onto the side of a building

Councillors in Eastern Poland voted to maintain their town’s position as an ‘LGBT-free zone’ amidst mounting international pressure to end discrimination against the Polish queer community. 

On Tuesday, September 22, Krasnik councillors narrowly voted eleven to nine in favour of keeping the anti-LGBT+ title in their muncipicality. The decision follows a week after Norway announced they would not grant funding to Polish towns which held such positions. 

Speaking with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, activist Bartosz Staszewski detailed the impact the councillor’s decision will have upon the town’s 3,500 residents. He said, “I just hope that this is the most expensive… act in Krasnik’s history. The citizens of these cities are losing because of the path (politicians) choose.”

A spokesman for Krasnik Mayor Wojciech Wilk firmly stated that the vote was a symbolic gesture and there were no official regulations affecting queer people. On the same day as the vote, the Polish embassy in America responded to a tweet from Presidential candidate Joe Biden by stating, “The Polish Government is committed to the rule of law, equal rights and social inclusion. There is no place for discrimination in our societies.”

While institutional discrimination grows in Poland, the LGBT+ community are calling on the European Union to take immediate action. Activists have submitted a petition signed by 330,000 people to the EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli.

LGBT+ activist groups All Out, Kampania Przeciwko Homofobii (Campaign Against Homophobia) and Lambda Warszawa compiled the petition. It reads, “We call on you to condemn these acts of violence and discrimination and to urge Polish authorities to protect the LGBT+ community and to pass legislation on hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The co-chair of the Campaign Against Homophobia Marcin Rodzinka said, “LGBT+ people in Poland still have some hope left, and the EU cannot leave them alone.”

Following the petition’s submission, All Out projected a massive call for action across the European Commission headquarters. The projection reads, “We are not an ideology. We are citizens of Poland.”

On Facebook, All Out wrote, “We went to the EU with a loud and clear demand from 340,000 people: take action on Poland now. The petition also represents a message of love and solidarity from across the world to the LGBT+ community in Poland: we hear you and we will stand with you. But we wanted to really make sure the EU can’t ignore this message. So we came back in the evening and lit up the headquarters of the European Commission with a massive projection.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen previously condemned the many Polish towns labelling themselves as an ‘LGBT-free zone’ in her first State of the Union address. She promised to take action towards ensuring equality for the queer community. 

In All Out’s call for support, they highlight the need for change, “Hate and violence against LGBT+ people in Poland have reached a boiling point. Polish politicians have declared LGBT+ people ‘enemies of the state’ and denounce them as ‘an ideology’. And around 100 Polish municipalities have declared themselves ‘LGBT-free zones’. Polish LGBT+ people are citizens of the EU and their rights must be protected. These attacks on LGBT+ lives in Poland must end now.”

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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