The European Commission has rejected funding for six Polish cities that have declared themselves “LGBT-free”, a growing local trend in which municipalities are issuing resolutions declaring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people undesirable.
“EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and public authorities,” EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dali said in a tweet announcing the rejection.
A spokesman for the European Commission said in an email to NBC News that the commission would not name the six cities, but said it had “a basic principle of equal treatment that underpins our selection procedures”
The decision means that these six undisclosed applications of twinning cities with other European Union cities – similar to the “sister cities” in the United States – were rejected. Applications can unlock up to € 25,000 in funding for conferences and other group building activities.
“Our treaties guarantee that everyone in Europe is free to be who they are, to live where they love, to love whoever they want and to strive as high as they want,” tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. . “I will continue to push for #UnionOfEquality.”
The issue of LGBTQ rights has recently divided Poland.
Earlier this month, conservative President Andrzej Duda was re-elected with a short margin of 51 per cent of the vote. Duda fights against LGBTQ equality, promising that gays will be banned from marrying and that LGBTQ issues will be banned from the curriculum.
Other cities in Western Europe have already rescinded their “twinning” agreements with Polish cities “without LGBT” before the recent rejection by the European Commission.
Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro called the rejection “illegal”, calling for the EU Commission to repeal it and arguing that the views of all citizens must be respected by the EU.
The trend began in March 2019, when small towns adopted resolutions declaring themselves free of LGBT ideology. Dozens of cities have followed since then, and now approximately one third of Poland’s population lives in these municipalities.
The Polish LGBT-free zone movement has already sparked international waves. Last year, under pressure, Carnegie Hall canceled an event related to a Polish magazine, which for the first time distributed the “LGBT-free zone” stickers in its July 2019 issue.
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