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This is the heartbreaking reality of being queer and living inside one of Poland’s ‘LGBT-free zones’

Lily Wakefield March 6, 2020
LGBT free zones Poland

Alicia, 19, lives in one of Poland's LGBT-free zones. (Channel 4 News)

A 19-year-old queer woman from Poland has revealed the heartbreaking reality of living in the heart of one of the country’s ‘LGBT-free zones’.

A third of Poland has declared itself to be an official LGBT-free zone as local municipalities sign a pledge adopting resolutions against “LGBT+ propaganda”.

Nearly 100 Polish municipal or local governments have now proclaimed themselves to be “free from LGBT+ ideology”. Local authorities in these areas pledge to refrain from acts that encourage tolerance and must avoid providing financial assistance to NGOs working to promote equal rights.

An “Atlas of Hate” map created by activists reveals the extent of Poland that has signed up to this pledge – and it covers an area greater than the size of Hungary.

Poland
The red area shows the municipalities in Poland that have signed the ‘LGBT-free’ pledge. (Atlas of Hate)

Alicia, 19, is a queer woman and one of the only openly LGBT+ people in her village. She told Channel 4 News that she was born and raised there.

She said that she is “scared” every day living in the so-called LGBT-free zone, and added: “My neighbours are scared to tell me to my face that they don’t like me, they don’t accept me.”

Alicia said she has tried to speak out about LGBT+ rights, which has made her more of a target.

She said: “I’m scared because they know where I live. But, the fear is motivating me. Someone has to fight.”

The 19-year-old is fighting back in her own way, and as homophobic graffiti and stickers crop up across her city, she has been covering them with her own stickers which read: “Too queer to fear.”

Last year the Polish city of Biaĺystok held its first-ever Pride march, but it was set upon by a group of extremists, who pelted the LGBT+ campaigners with rocks, glass bottles and firecrackers.

Alicia attended the march and was attacked there. She said: “It was terrifying. The hooligans chose me as a target and threw the firecrackers, a lot of them. I was really scared.”

The number of LGBT-free zones in Poland has continued to grow, even after the European Parliament passed a resolution that strongly condemned the concept of LGBT-free zones in December.

MEPs described the measures as part of “a broader context of attacks against the LGBT+ community in Poland, which include growing hate speech by public and elected officials and public media, as well as attacks and bans on Pride marches and actions such as Rainbow Friday”.

More: atlas of hate, Biaĺystok, LGBT-free zones, Poland, pride march, queer woman

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