Polish Towns That Declared Themselves ‘LGBT-Free’ Denied European Union Funds
Six Polish towns that introduced ‘LGBT-free zones’ are facing financial consequences as the European Union has rejected their application for funding.
The six municipalities in question had applied for grants of between €5,000 and €25,000 from an EU programme that encourages cultural partnerships to form between ‘twin’ towns in different member states.
The funds are to be used on programs working towards equality and integration, but the towns were denied because of their decisions to sign pledges opposing acts of tolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Some Polish regions declared themselves ‘LGBT ideology-free zones’ or adopted ‘family rights’ declarations that Brussels regards as discriminatory, and which the European Parliament has condemned.
Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Equality, explained the decision to reject the towns on Twitter, writing:
EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by member states and state authorities.
This is why six town twinning applications involving Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected.
According to a commission spokesman cited by RTE, the EU’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) had written to some of the towns seeking clarification over their stance on LGBTQ+ rights.
The call for proposals for the twinning programme stipulates that it must be accessible to all European citizens without any form of discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
The spokesperson went on to say the towns were rejected because the ‘reply given by the project’s legal representative did not give the evaluation committee sufficient assurance that the project would be in line’ with the programme’s objectives, ‘in particular equal access and non-discrimination’.
The European Commission published a list of the 127 towns that succeeded in getting the grants, eight of which were Polish. It’s not been specified which towns were rejected, though it’s likely they are in the conservative southeast, where the majority of the ‘LGBT-free’ zones are located.
Pink News reports the controversial zones now cover around a third of Poland, though some are beginning to be annulled as the courts find them unconstitutional.
The French town of Saint-Jean-de-Braye broke its twinning partnership with Tuchów in Poland due to its views, declaring that the relationship was now ‘tainted’.
France is committed to combating human rights violations based on sexual orientation.
We cannot accept that the ties that unite our two cities by a twinning oath be tainted. We condemn the position taken by our twin city of Tuchów.
As well as rejecting funding, the EU has also threatened to cut pandemic recovery funds to the ‘LGBT-free’ regions, with the commission asking anti-LGBTQ+ governors to confirm how the money would be used for measures promoting equality.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]