LGBTQ-free Polish cities to lose EU funding
Six LGBTQ-free Polish cities are set to lose their funding from the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU).
The commission in Brussels had made this declaration after the Polish cities, which were not named, had declared themselves as LGBTQ-free zones.
This means that the cities would not be able to “twin” with other EU cities and get funding to pay for conferences and other generators of tax revenues.
EU takes on LGBTQ-free Polish cities
The basis for the defunding of these cities is that the anti-LGBTQ actions of these cities conflict with EU values, said EU Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli in a tweet.
“EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by member states and public authorities,” Dalli said.
She added, “This is why six town twinning applications involving Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected.”
Recently, Polish voters reelected conservative president Andrzej Duda, who had pushed a campaign to ban same-sex marriage and LGBTQ-inclusive school curricula in the conservative, largely Catholic nation.
Five years earlier, Duda’s allies, the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS), took power on their stance to defend traditional family values.
Poland’s leaders have been butting heads with the EU on democratic norms. On the agenda at a European Union summit was the proposal to freeze payouts for EU countries said to be undermining democratic values.
Before the summit, Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s gay prime minister, told Reuters: “If we accept that you condemn a sexual minority, tomorrow it will be religion, the day after it will be race.”
Growing anti-LGBTQ stance in Poland
Poland condemned this move to defund the cities with Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro calling out the European Commission for not respecting the views of its member nations.
“We will not allow discrimination of Polish citizens and local governments by the European Union,” Ziobro said on Facebook.
He added that, “The Union must respect the equality of all its citizens, who have the right to form their opinions and beliefs freely.”
Radoslaw Gabriel Barzenc, a council head of the village of Konskowola, which had declared themselves free of LGBTQ ideology, called this “blackmail” and an unjustified interference.
“The restrictions could be implemented because people have an opinion. Isn’t this discrimination? Is this what European tolerance is about? I don’t think so,” Barzenc told Reuters.
A declaration by the village council in 2019 said they are against “promoting the ideology of the LGBT movement.”
They further said they “will not allow any administrative pressure in support of political correctness, rightfully called ‘homopropaganda’.”
Cutting funding for LGBTQ-free Polish cities
What is at stake here? Cities and municipalities can apply for a grant between €5,000 and €25,000 under the twinning programme of the Europe for Citizens project
Since Poland joined the EU in 2004, thousands of cities and municipalities across Poland have received €36 billion (US$41 billion) in aid.
In the case of Konskowola, its mayor, Stanislaw Golebiowski, said they could use EU funds to modernize its irrigation systems for its prize rose fields and other flowers the village grows.
Likewise, the funds have been used on projects to improve living standards in the village.
In 2019, 80 municipalities in Poland had declared themselves “free of LGBT ideology” with the support of local politicians associated with the PiS party.