The European Union (EU) has taken steps to block funding to six Polish towns which have declared themselves 'LGBT-free' zones.
The unnamed towns have been barred from joining the EU 'twinning' project to establish connections with sister towns around Europe and gain access to funding worth between thousands of Euros, the New York Times reports.
"EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities," wrote European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, on Twitter.
"This is why six town-twinning applications involving Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected."
Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, added on Twitter: "Our treaties in Europe ensure that every person in Europe is free to be who they are, live where they like, love who they want and aim as high as they want. I will continue to push for a #UnionOfEquality."
The move comes as the EU faces increasing pressure to take action over Poland's 'LGBT-free' zones, which, despite having no legal standing, have seen anti-LGBTQ signs erected along roadsides and have fuelled hostility in an already socially conservative state.
Since the first 'LGBT-free' zones appeared in the summer of 2019, they have spread to around a third of Poland's local municipalities.
Last month, Polish president Andrzej Duda - an avowed Euro-sceptic and vocal opponent of LGBTQ equality - narrowly won re-election after pledging to impose a constitutional ban on same-sex couples adopting.
We recently spoke to three LGBTQ people currently living in Poland's 'LGBT-free' zones about the increasingly hostile environment they currently find themselves in. Click here to read more.