As of August 2019, around 80 different LGBT-free zones have been declared in Poland, including four voivodeships in the south-east of the country: Lesser Poland, Podkarpackie, Świętokrzyskie, and Lublin. The four Voivodeships form the historically conservative part of Poland.
MEPs made note of growing homophobia throughout Europe as nationalist politicians resort to discriminatory rhetoric and highlight that although legal measures against discrimination are in place in the majority of member states, they are not sufficiently implemented, leaving LGBTQ+ people vulnerable to hate crimes, hate speech and discrimination. The EU Directive on non-discrimination, blocked by EU ministers for 11 years now, would help fill this gap in protection.
“Recent examples include homophobic statements during a referendum campaign in Romania and hate speech targeting LGBTQ+ people in the context of elections in Estonia, Spain, the UK, Hungary and Poland”
The organization makes particular note of how the homophobic zones will impact LGBTQ youth in Polish jurisdictions where such resolutions have passed.
In addition, MEPs call on the Commission to monitor how all EU funding is used, to remind stakeholders of their commitment to non-discrimination and that such funds must not be used for discriminatory purposes.
A resolution approved by a 463-107 vote explicitly calls on the Polish government to revoke all resolutions and condemns the local governments passing the laws.
The move by Parliament comes as a particularly contentious year draws to close in Poland as far as LGBTQ rights, that has included violent clashes at Pride events between supporters and opponents of equality. A right-wing magazine earlier this year announced it would distribute free “LGBT-Free Zone” stickers in Warsaw, an action ultimately stopped by the courts.
A rise in LGBTQ activism has developped in response to the ascension of the arch-right Law and Justice, whose leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński has said LGBTQ supporters “threaten our identity, threaten our nation, threaten the Polish state,” as the ruling party in the nation.
We should all be seriously concerned by the outrageous events that have been going on lately. Many victories – even if never enough – have been achieved so far and it is our duty as decent citizens to make sure everyone’s rights are respected.