Europe

Polish region revokes anti-LGBT declaration over loss of EU funding

A region in southern Poland has revoked an anti-LGBT resolution under the threat of losing European Union funding.

The regional assembly of Swietokrzyskie voted in a special session on Wednesday to revoke the resolution, which was first passed in 2019 by dozens of Polish muncipalities.

It is the first time a region in Poland has abandoned the declaration of being an “LGBT-free zones”.

Poland’s government had asked local authorities in several regions to revoke their largely symbolic anti-LGBT resolutions.

Members of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party had supported the resolutions, which local communities said were intended to protect families based on unions of a man and a woman.

But the appeal marked a reversal for the conservative government after the EU put on hold millions of euros of funding to the regions.

The anti-LGBT resolutions were part of a backlash by rights activists, who said the “LGBT-free” designations made gays and lesbians feel unwelcome.

The motion passed by Swietokrzyskie in 2019 had stated their “opposition to the attempts to introduce LGBT ideology to local government communities and the promotion of this ideology in public life”.

The measure also declared “deep disapproval and strong opposition to the attempts by liberal political and social circles to promote an ideology based on LGBT affirmation”.

Swietokrzyskie had said such attempts were “in clear contradiction to the cultural heritage and centuries-old Christian traditions not only of the region but also of Poland and Europe.”

EU leaders had denounced the resolutions as discriminatory, and the EU Parliament reacted earlier this year by passing a resolution declaring the entire 27-member EU a “freedom zone” for LGBT people.

Brussels had also suspended negotiations with five regions concerning the payment of funds from the cohesion recovery support programme.

At the special regional assembly on Wednesday, 25 councillors approved the decision to withdraw from the controversial declaration, no one opposed it and three councillors abstained from voting.

According to national media, Swietokrzyskie has now passed a new resolution stating that Poland’s Constitution guarantees parents the right to raise their children in accordance with their beliefs and views but also provides “a guarantee of equality and fair treatment for all”.

LGBT rights activists had been urging the EU to act more forcefully to protect them from discrimination, and they welcomed Wednesday’s development.

Activist Bart Staszewski called it a “great day for Poland and great success of activists and civil society. I am really moved.”

Meanwhile, the liberal newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza said the region’s action marked “a good day in the fight against discrimination”.

On Monday, the Krakow region is reportedly set to consider a similar move.

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