Wednesday

14th Apr 2021

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not OK, says EU commission

  • A town in Poland, among 80 others, that has declared itself 'LGBT-free' (Photo: Bart Staszewski)

The European Commission has spoken out against towns in Poland that have labelled themselves "free" from lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex communities (LGBTI).

"We cannot allow the distribution of LGBTI free zone stickers, or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions and not feel responsible for the next phase where physical attacks that take place, even if they are then carried out by other people," said EU commissioner for equality, Helena Dalli.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Most of the zones are in the south-east of Poland (Photo: Kuba Gawron)

Speaking on Tuesday (4 February) at the European Parliament in Brussels, Dalli said the commission would make advancing LGBTI rights a priority for the next five years, noting that six EU states provide no recognition for same sex couples.

Her comments follow some 80 towns in Poland that have declared themselves "LGBTI-free zones" or "free from LGBTI ideology".

Activists in Poland are tracking the so-called zones via online maps, with most concentrated in the south-east of the country.

One town, Lublin, last year presented awards to local officials who opposed LGBTI 'ideology'.

Elsewhere, mayors in Lublin, Gniezno and Rzeszow had also banned equality marches.

The moves fit a pattern of anti-LGBTI rhetoric espoused by the ruling right-wing party Law and Justice (PiS), as well as Krakow's archbishop, who had last year described the LGBTI movement as a "rainbow plague".

Asked to comment, a spokesperson at the European Commission said the institution clearly condemns any discrimination or violence on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"This is the first commission that actually has a dedicated commissioner for equality also covering these subjects," said the spokesperson, in a nod to commissioner Dalli.

MEPs in the European Parliament last December condemned Poland's 'LGBTI-free zones' in a resolution, demanding that EU ministers unblock an EU directive on non-discrimination. The directive has been stuck for eleven years.

But the backlash against LGBTI communities is not limited to Poland.

Post-Brexit UK, for instance, registered a 147-percent spike in homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, says ILGA-Europe, an NGO.

The NGO found a 41-percent increase in the number of racially or religiously aggravated crimes post-Brexit.

An annual report published by the NGO on Tuesday also revealed a sharp rise of hate speech across the region, often carried out by public figures.

Aside from Poland, it identified growing official hate speech from political and religious leaders in countries including Albania, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Turkey.

However, the same report also noted some improvements, including the expansion of family rights in Andorra, Austria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Malta, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Gay rights under threat in divided Europe

From same-sex marriage in Malta to horrors in Azerbaijan - survey shows huge disparities on gay rights in Europe, amid "stagnating" progress and populist threats.

Opinion

Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?

The European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance demands Germany give up its resistance to the Anti-Discrimination Directive and suggest the commission and centre-right parties exert further pressure on Polish and Hungarian authorities to improve conditions for the LGBT+ community and people.

Student unrest over Romania gender-studies ban

The amendment to the education law, approved by the Romanian parliament, is pushing the country closer to the authoritarian policies found in neighbouring Hungary and Poland, critics say.

Six 'LGBTI-free' Polish cities left out of EU funding

Six Polish cities that declared themselves as "LGBTI-free zones" have been denied funding under the EU's Town Twinning programme for failing to meet the standards of "equal access and non-discrimination".

News in Brief

  1. Michel pledges to protect von der Leyen's 'dignity' in future
  2. Libya frees UN-sanctioned human trafficker
  3. European court: jailed Turkish writer's rights violated
  4. EU set to miss 1m electric charging points by 2025 target
  5. Lavrov expects Iran nuclear deal to be saved
  6. France suspends flights from Brazil due to Covid variant
  7. Johnson & Johnson delays roll-out of vaccine in EU
  8. German government agrees nationwide pandemic law

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine
  2. Future EU platform seeks to 'stay clean' of hate speech
  3. Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns
  4. MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'
  5. Will Romania be EU's Green Deal laggard?
  6. Muslims, Ramadan, and myths facing 'European civilisation'
  7. Europe & Africa - rebuilding the future
  8. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us