Top Polish court rules ‘LGBT-free zones’ must be abolished

The zones which were introduced in 2019 aim to rid themselves of “LGBT ideology” and ban the promotion of queer identities.

Polish flag where LGBT-free zones are set to be abolished.
Image: Pexels

On Tuesday, June 28, a top Polish appeals court ruled that so-called ‘LGBT-free zones’ in four municipalities must be abolished. The judgement was celebrated by activists including Poland’s Campaign Against Homophobia, which stated, “Today’s decision… is a great victory for democracy, human rights and respect for people.”

The ruling comes after the country’s Human Rights Ombudsman took legal action against authorities who introduced these LGBT–free zones in 2019. Lower Polish courts sided with the ombudsman, declaring that nine of the zones should be scrapped – a decision which was then challenged by the public prosecutor’s office, Ordo Iuris and the municipalities involved. The Polish appeals court upheld the lower courts’ rulings in the first four cases which were discussed on Tuesday.

The Polish LGBT-free zones aim to be free of “LGBT ideology”, banning what they see as the promotion of homosexuality and other queer identities, especially in schools. Authorities involved see the fight for LGBTQ+ rights as a threat to traditional values which largely originate from Catholic beliefs. 

The introduction of these zones sparked uproar from not only local queer activists but also the European Union and other global allies. Funding was cut significantly for the localities, and partnerships were terminated as was seen when officials in Fermoy, Cork announced they were ending their twinning arrangement with the Polish town of Nowa Dęba.

As recently as Friday, June 24, the Campaign against Homophobia claimed that the EU Commission had introduced a clause in its Partnership Agreement with the nation that would prevent municipalities with LGBT-free statuses from receiving funds from the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget.

Criticising Tuesday’s ruling, Cabinet Minister and member of the conservative United Poland party Michal Wojcik told Reuters: “If councillors decide that they want to support our traditions and identity, it is their sovereign right. Nobody should limit this.”

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