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Polish region abandons 'LGBT-free zone' status after EU's threat to withhold funding

Homophobia costs!

2021-09-23

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels

A region in Poland has gone back on its declaration of being an “LGBT-free zone” after the threat of losing European Union funding.

Świętokrzyskie’s regional assembly voted on Wednesday (22 September) to revoke the resolution, first passed in 2019. It is the first such U-turn in Poland.

In 2019, the Polish Government declared itself free of LGBTQ ideology after warning the “LGBTQ movement imported [into Poland] threatens our identity, our nation, its continued existence, and therefore the Polish state”.

“Great day for Poland”

At a meeting of the region’s assembly, no one opposed the move to withdraw from the previous anti-LGBTQ declaration and three councillors abstained, according to Euronews. It also reports that the Polish government asked regions to revoke the declaration.

Świętokrzyskie has now passed a new resolution allowing parents to raise their children in line with their beliefs but also providing “equality and fair treatment to all”.

The Krakow region is apparently considering a similar move.

Activists in Poland have hailed the news as a victory. Bart Staszewski [below] called it a “great day for Poland and great success of activists and civil society. I am really moved.”

The 2019 motion stated an “opposition to the attempts to introduce LGBT ideology to local government communities and the promotion of this ideology in public life."

The measure also declared “deep disapproval and strong opposition to the attempts by liberal political and social circles to promote an ideology based on LGBT affirmation”.

"I’m quite worried about young people"

Shortly after that was introduced the EU Parliament voted to adopt a resolution condemning the homophobic zones. Last year, the EU voted to block funding for six Polish towns and in March, the EU Parliament voted to declare the EU as an “LGBTQ Freedom Zone”.

Attitude has heard from people living in areas declared “LGBT Free Zones”. Nikita, a non-binary bisexual, intersex and transgender. They live in Rzeszów, one of the “LGBT-free zones,” and told us they felt “awful and scared,” when a far-right magazine gave out stickers “LGBT free zone” stickers.

They added: “I’m quite worried about young people who are maybe still in the closet, and don’t have a support network of good friends around them: a position that most of us have been in at some stage.”

But despite the difficulties of living in a conservative area, they say they feel “more empowered” to speak out and take part in LGBT initiatives. “After the attack on Pride demonstrators in Białystok [in July 2019], there are many protests in cities that have shown their solidarity against homophobic violence. That gives me a lot of strength.”

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