Mayor of Polish LGBT-free town faces consequences: ‘We have become Europe’s laughingstock’
Life at comes you fast when you’re the mayor of a Polish ‘LGBT-free’ town that’s facing financial ruin over a public declaration of homophobia.
The small community of Krasnik in eastern Poland was among the first in the country to sign a declaration against LGBT+ rights in May 2019.
Few people paid attention to the political stunt back then, and Mayor Wojciech Wilk didn’t see much harm in what appeared to be a “symbolic and legally pointless gesture”.
To him it seemed a cost-free sop to conservatives in the rural and religiously devout region – but he’d soon come to realise it would be very costly indeed.
The declaration has turned “our town into a synonym for homophobia,” he told the New York Times, a reputation which he insisted was not accurate.
“We have become Europe’s laughingstock, and it’s the citizens not the local politicians who’ve suffered most.”
The mayor says he’s now scrambling to contain the damage as the town’s commitment to bigotry jeopardises millions of dollars in foreign funding.
Krasnik previously received thousands in EU money as part of a lucrative twinning programme, but this quickly dried up when a French town severed the relationship in protest.
Then the mayor had to wave goodbye to nearly 38,184500 zł ($US10 million) funding for development projects, which he’d hoped to get from Norway until it refused to give grants to any ‘LGBT-free’ town.
The mayor worries that unless his town’s ‘LGBT-free’ status is rescinded, he has little chance of securing foreign funds to finance electric buses and youth programs.
These youth programs are particularly important, he explained, because young people “keep leaving”. We can’t think why.
He’s now lobbying councillors to repeal Krasnik’s resolution, but he’s facing an uphill battle after the town stubbornly voted to uphold it in September last year.
One local, 73-year-old Jan Chamara, said he would rather live on a diet of just potatoes than give into economic pressure from outside to repeal the resolution.
“I don’t want their money,” he said, admitting that he’s never seen gay people in Krasnik but still felt precautions were necessary. “We will survive.”
The mayor, however, is more doubtful as to the town’s prospects.
“My position is clear: I want this resolution repealed,” Wilk said, not because he actually supports LGBT+ rights, but “because it’s harmful for the town and its inhabitants.”