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EU sends thinly-veiled funding threat to Poland over its heinous homophobia

Emma Powys Maurice June 18, 2020
LGBT-free Zone stickers are distributed with the latest issue of Polish conservative weekly newspaper 'Gazeta Polska'. Krakow, Poland on 24 July, 2019.

LGBT-free Zone stickers distributed with Polish conservative weekly magazine Gazeta Polska. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty)

The EU has threatened to cut pandemic recovery funds to regions in Poland that have declared themselves to be “LGBT-free”.

The European Commission made the threat in a letter to five Polish local governors who have declared their regions to be “LGBT-free” zones.

These areas now cover more than a third of the country, with nearly 100 Polish municipal or local governments having pledged to refrain from acts that encourage tolerance or provide financial assistance to NGOs working to promote equal rights.

The letter, which has been seen by EUobserver, warns that the EU is currently deciding how to spend extra money to “counter the coronavirus impact in Poland”.

The commission asks the anti-LGBT+ governors to assess “the risk of discrimination” in how the new funds would be allocated — for example, to local businesses who refused to employ LGBT+ people.

It also urges the governors to adopt new “measures promoting equality and non-discrimination” in their regions and to confirm, in writing, what they plan to do.

EU officials condemn Polish ‘LGBT-free’ zones.

The letter was signed by two top officials, Joost Korte and Marc Lemaître, who are responsible for authorising EU donations to social and regional projects.

“While at the same time they [Polish governors] are using EU funds … these actions [LGBT-free declarations] result in [some] citizens’ fear of being discriminated [against] by these authorities, or being beaten by other citizens, or losing [their] jobs,” EUobserver reports Korte and Lemaître saying.

LGBT coronavirus
A masked activist protesting in Warsaw against ‘LGBT-free’ zones in Poland (Attila Husejnow / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media/ Getty)

MEPs have also highlighted the increase in homophobic rhetoric employed by Polish president Andrzej Duda as part of his presidential election campaign.

In a bid to appeal to his conservative base, Duda has vowed to prohibit any LGBT-inclusive teaching in schools, and to block the legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption in Poland.

Marc Angel, a left-wing MEP from Luxembourg, accused the president of “instrumentalising [sic] hatred” to try to win the election.

Italian MEP Fabio Massimo Castaldo added: “It is unacceptable to have a president of a member state of the EU acting in complete violation of the treaties and the values on which the European Union is founded.”

It’s not the first time the EU has chastised Polish leaders for inciting a growing wave of homophobic hatred.

Last year the European Parliament voted to condemn the formation of LGBT-free zones, but it seems to have made little difference, as around 20 more LGBT-free regions were announced in the months that followed.

 

More: Coronavirus, european commission, European Union, Pandemic, Poland

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