The European Commission rejected funding for six Polish cities that claimed to be “LGBT-free”, a growing local trend where municipalities issued resolutions declaring themselves unwelcome to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“EU fundamental values and rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities,” European Union Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli wrote in a tweet, announcing the rejection.
A European Commission spokesman told NBC News in an email that the commission would not name six cities, but said there was “a fundamental principle of equality of treatment that is at the heart of our selection processes.”;
The ruling means that these six applications from unknown cities for “twins” with other European Union cities – similar to “sister cities” in the United States – were rejected. Applications can unlock up to 25,000 euros in funding for conferences and other group building activities.
“Our treaties ensure that every person in Europe is free to be who they are, to live where they want, to love what they want and to aim as high as they want,” tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “I will continue to push for a #UnionOfEquality.”
The issue of LGBTQ rights has recently divided Poland.
Earlier this month, Conservative President Andrzej Duda was re-elected by a narrow margin with 51 per cent of the vote. Duda campaigned against LGBTQ equality, promising that homosexuals would be barred from marrying and LGBTQ issues would be banned from school curricula.
Other cities in Western Europe have already canceled their “twinning” agreements with Polish “LGBT” cities ahead of the European Commission’s recent rejection.
Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro called the refusal “illegal”, calling for an overthrow by the EU Commission and arguing that the views of all citizens should be respected by the EU.
The trend started in March 2019 when small towns passed resolutions declaring themselves free from “LGBT ideology”. Since then, dozens of cities have followed, and now approximately one third of Poland’s population lives in these municipalities.
Poland’s “Zone without LGBT” movement has already caused an international wave. Last year, under pressure, Carnegie Hall canceled an event related to a Polish magazine that circulated for the first time the “LGBT-free zone” sticker in its July 2019 issue.
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