Poland’s LGBT-Free Zones Violate Human Rights

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One of Poland’s largest provinces, Malopolskie located in the south of the country, recently voted to remain a so-called LGBT-free zone. In total, more than 100 of the country’s municipalities and regions are currently “LGBT-free”. “We argue that this is a clear violation of LGBTQI people’s human rights” said Deidre Palacios, President of RFSL.

An “LGBT-free” zone broadly means that the municipality or region dissociates itself from “LGBT-ideology” and that it promotes the idea that a child can only have a mother and a father as parents. The decisions among municipalities and regions to adopt declarations that make them LGBT-free zones became popular around two years ago and today include roughly a third of the country. Since then, many activists and LGBTQI persons have reported about increased homophobia in Poland.

Last month, the EU Commission launched a so-called infringement procedure against Poland in order to investigate the LGBTQ-free zones. In addition, the EU commission has warned that municipalities and regions that adopt these declarations may lose millions of euros in EU grants. Despite this, Jan Duda, the chairman of the government in Malopolskie and the father of President Andrzej Duda, continues to argue that the declarations are there to “protect the family”.

“Just saying the phrase ‘LGBT-free’ zones feels absurd. That an EU country so clearly violates people’s right to, among other things, freedom of assembly and expression is frightening and it is clear that the EU must put additional efforts into making sure that member countries comply with, and advocate for, international human rights standards. We hope and believe that Sweden will take on a leading role in this work,” said Deidre Palacios. 

Poland is the country at the bottom of the EU countries in ILGA’s yearly report on the respect for LGBTQI people’s rights in Europe. In recent months, we have seen examples of both judicial processes against LGBTQI activists and homophobic statements made by decision-makers in the country. Read more here.