In recent months, Poland has been widely accused of creating LGBT free zones. The issue has been criticized in the European Union and even by the U.S presidential candidate, Joe Biden. It led to very rare economic sanctions on six cities in Poland accused of non-equal treatment of their citizens. Those six towns were refused funding from the EU. Helena Dalli, the EU’s commissioner for equality, condemned their position on Twitter:
EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities.
This is why 6 town twinning applications invilving Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected.#LGBTI #UnionOfEquality
— Helena Dalli (@helenadalli) July 28, 2020
More of an ideological ban
Yet, the denomination “LGBT free zone” is misleading. One might understand that the said towns ban the LGBT community, which is not strictly true. Actually, in these towns, there is no legal ban on LGBT people. Polish officials have called such claims out as fake news. What actually happened is that in a symbolic act, nearly 100 towns and regions in Poland, nearly a third of the country, declared themselves “Free from LGBT ideology” and expressed support for “traditional marriage” : to be understood as a marriage between a man and a woman. Some gay right activists in Poland started a map of those places.
A growing hatred inside a divided society
What must not be missed is that Poland is experiencing a growing animosity towards the LGTBQ community which is dividing its society. Last summer, in the very conservative city of Bialystok, opponent threw bricks and fireworks during a gay pride parade. More recently, during his successful presidential campaign, Andrzej Duda said the “LGBT ideology » was more dangerous than communist doctrine. A 2020 survey by ILGA, an international gay rights organization, stated that Poland is now the most homophobic country in the European Union.
We cannot say that “LGBT free zones” were created in Poland. What really happened is that nearly a third of the country refuses what it calls “LGBT ideology”, which really is a sign of a growing and worrying homophobia in the country.