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Belgian regions close Polish office over attack on democracy and LGBT+ rights

Belgian regions close Polish office over attack on democracy and LGBT+ rights

  • Brussels and Wallonia say Poland is ‘endangering democracy and European integration’.

The Belgian regions of Brussels and Wallonia have shut down the office representing them in Warsaw in protest at Poland’s government.

The regions say they refuse to accept Polish government attacks on judicial and media independence and LGBT+ rights.

The office in the Polish capital, Warsaw, has a team of seven staff to represent the regions in areas as diverse as culture, sport, tourism and scientific exchange.

But in a statement, the Walloon region’s Premier Elio Di Rupo and his Walloon-Brussels counterpart, Pierre-Yves Jeholet, said the office will be closed for an unspecified period.

They added: ‘For several years, the authoritarian excesses of the government in place have undermined the rule of law.

‘Attacking the independence of the judiciary, the separation of powers is endangering democracy and European integration, we cannot accept it.’

EU battle with Poland

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) coalition has heightened its attacks on LGBT+ people in recent years.

The EU is particularly alarmed by the rise of ‘LGBT Free Zones’ across Poland. Moreover, they noted the hate-filled re-election campaign of PiS candidate Andrej Duda who won his second term as Poland’s president in July.

Since then, Poland has seen a summer of protests and public anger by both LGBT+ people and haters.

The European Union has already rejected funding for six towns in Poland that have declared themselves ‘LGBT Free Zones’.

But now the EU looks like it may intervene more aggressively. On 16 September, European Commission President Von der Leyen told the European Parliament:

‘LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones. And they have no place in our (European) Union.

‘Breaches of the rule of law cannot be tolerated.’

Poland – and it’s neighbor Hungary which has also launched an unprecedented attack on LGBT+ rights this year – both also risk losing access to tens of billions in EU funds. The EU is investigating both countries for undermining the rule of law.

Poland, along with Hungary, is under EU investigation for undermining the rule of law and risks losing access to tens of billions of euros in EU funds.

Meanwhile both countries vetoed the EU COVID-19 recovery fund, even though it would help their economies, because it was conditional on respect for the rule of law.