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Will the EU finally act against Poland’s anti-LGBT+ government?

Will the EU finally act against Poland’s anti-LGBT+ government?

  • Politicians argue both Poland and Hungary should lose EU funds over anti-LGBT+ policies.
MEP protests Poland's LGBT+ record.

The European Parliament is to vote on Poland’s LGBT+ record as some politicians demand it loses EU funding over the issue.

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

But now campaigners are calling on Europe to intervene more aggressively.

This week European and Polish LGBT+ groups submitted a legal complaint to the European Commission over Poland’s ‘Family Charters’ and ‘LGBT Free’ areas.

One of the campaigners involved Miko Czerwiński of Fundacja Równości (The Equality Foundation) said the zones are leading to LGBT+ people losing their jobs and facing violence. He added: ‘Poland is violating fundamental rights.’

Moreover Sophia in ’t Veld, a Dutch parliament member of the European Parliament, said: ‘We see Poland crossing red line after red line.’

She is also vice-president of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights. That group coordinated 32 MEPs who dressed as a human rainbow flag outside the parliament yesterday.

Members of the European Parliament protesting Poland's LGBT+ policies.
Members of the European Parliament protesting Poland’s LGBT+ policies. WC

Summer of anti-LGBT+ anger and protest 

Their action reflected that of Polish politicians in August. They protested by forming a human rainbow as anti-LGBT+ Polish President Andrzej Duda got sworn in for his second term.

Duda is part of the Law and Justice Party PiS that has stirred LGBT+ hatred in Poland to win elections.

The anti-LGBT+ and Eurosceptic party now controls both houses of the Polish parliament through its United Right coalition.

Moreover, Duda’s election campaign was deeply homophobic

Meanwhile the last two years have seen towns and regions across Poland declare themselves to be ‘LGBT Free Zones’. The areas now cover around a third of the country.

The level of hate in Poland has been on the rise since early in 2019. Indeed, LGBT+ rights became a major battleground in the recent presidential election.

Meanwhile, others are continuing to demand rights and respect. This summer has seen a dramatic increase in protests and public anger – on both sides.

Use funding to battle Poland’s LGBT+ hate

This week the European Parliament is discussing a new report on fundamental rights in Poland.

Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, a Spanish lawmaker who heads the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, has prepared the report which will face a vote tomorrow (17 September).

He called the situation in Poland ‘extremely concerning’.

Meanwhile Sophia in ’t Veld MEP demanded EU leaders took action against the anti-LGBT+ governments of both Poland and Hungary under its Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

‘I don’t want to hear the word dialogue anymore. We’ve been in dialogue with Mr Orban for 10 years. And look at where we are now. It is impunity. Dialogue equals impunity.’

Likewise Vera Jourova, vice president of the European Commission, also wants action.

The commission ensures the European Union’s 27 nations apply EU law. And Jourova said it will soon decide on Poland disciplining judges and its ‘LGBT Free Zones’.

Moreover, she said she wants funding linked to the rule of law:

‘I sometimes say in a rather cynical way that who doesn’t understand our values, he usually understands the money. Let’s use this instrument.

‘The taxpayers of many member states — they are fed up [with] funding the projects in countries where fundamental rights are violated.’

LGBT+ losing jobs and facing attack

This week also saw LGBT+ campaigners from ILGA-Europe and Polish organizations KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) and Fundacja Równości (The Equality Foundation) submit their legal complaint to the European Commission.

In it, the activists explain how Poland’s ‘LGBT Free Zones’ violate a European Council Directive and Europe’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Moreover they say 400 Polish individuals have personally complained to the commission about the anti-LGBT+ policies.

Czerwiński of Fundacja Równości said:

‘Working in so-called “LGBT Free Zones” we see what detrimental effect this is having on LGBTI people.

‘They are losing their jobs or contracts, are excluded from local communities and are being violently attacked in their own cities.

‘Fundacja Równość have also submitted complaints to the EC as we were denied access to an EU-funded cultural centre with the argument that we wanted to hold an “ideological event”, while a homophobic event was allowed to go ahead.

‘The examples of discrimination and violence provided in all of the 400 individual complaints sent to the EC show how seriously Poland is violating fundamental rights.’

‘EU must start infringement procedures’

Meanwhile  Mirosława Makuchowska of KPH said:

‘LGBT people living in so-called “LGBT Free Zones” cannot wait any longer.’

Likewise, Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director of ILGA-Europe, says the European Commission and Council ‘can no longer remain silent’.

She said Europe must reject Poland PiS party claims they are ‘defending Polish families’. Instead it must recognize ‘the real harm’ that LGBT+ people in Poland face.

She concluded: ‘EU law is being violated and the EC needs to start infringement procedures.’