EU’s LGBTQ+ freedom zone

The European Parliament has declared that all 27 members in the European Union are an “LGBTQ Freedom Zone” in response to rising homophobia in Poland

Photo by Jassin Sessler on Unsplash.

— 3 minute read — By Camilla Foster

MEPs have voted in favour of a resolution that supports the LGBTQ+ community’s fundamental human rights across The European Union. This declaration of the EU being an LGBTQ+ freedom zone has been regarded as a reaction against the increasingly discriminatory policies that are currently being promoted in both Poland and Hungary. Both countries have caused increasing commotion within Brussels in recent years due to their controversial undemocratic policies linked to the absence of a free press and a judicial system free from political influence within their governments.

The European Union has threatened both countries with the suspension of their voting rights but have been hesitant for these threats to actually materialise into concrete punishment. However, due to increasing hostility and disagreement, there has been real action with the suspension of EU funds to many Polish towns that have declared themselves LGBTQ+ free zones.

Approximately 100 Polish towns have now declared that they are LGBTQ+ free zones. Although it is essentially a symbolic notion that is not enshrined in law, it has provided significant ammunition for hostility and intolerance against the gay community. Homophobia is embedded into conservative parts of Polish society, and behind the doors of the council meetings where the freedoms of LGBTQ+ people are debated on a regular basis. The towns that have adopted the free from LGBTQ+ stance are seeking to protect their traditional notion of a nuclear family.

The ruling Justice and Law Party is renowned for its conservative ideology and has actively encouraged hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community in Poland. Poland has a historical attachment to Roman Catholicism and some Poles view the struggle for gay rights as a Western notion that threatens the traditional heterosexual Polish family. Senior politicians within more conservative parts of Poland, such as President Andrzej Duda, have stated that the promotion of LGBTQ+ rights as an ideology is even more destructive than communism, highlighting the prevalent hostility of this bitter culture war. The Archbishop of Krakow referred to gay rights as a neo-Marxist “rainbow plague”.

Same-sex relationships are not legally recognised in Poland and the current ruling government plan to close a loophole that allows homosexual couples to adopt by introducing thorough background checks on any adoption applications. If an applicant is found to be in a same-sex relationship, they could be criminally liable. This has made life incredibly difficult for the gay community in Poland who have been faced with three choices; to emigrate from their homeland, to fight back and face discrimination, or conceal their true identities.

The European Union treaties advocate equality and convey that all citizens should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination, or persecution. Thus, Poland’s recent tightening of restrictions on adoption have fuelled tensions. Last year, the current President European Commissioner, Ursula Von der Leyen, articulated her disapproval of Poland’s ruling right-wing nationalist Law and the Justice Party government. She has referred to the number of Polish towns that have proclaimed themselves ‘LGBTQ+ ideology-free zones’ as ‘humanity-free zones’ that do not have a place in the European Union. 

This resolution indicates significant progress and highlights how the European Parliament is turning grievances and words into action, but the extent it will effectively improve the lives of the LGBTQ+ community in Poland is questionable. This issue arguably highlights that inequality and discrimination need to be addressed and investigated more thoroughly not only in Poland, but across the entire European Union. 

This resolution is progress and highlights how the European Parliament is turning grievances and words into action, but the extent it will effectively improve the lives of the LGBT community in Poland is questionable. This issue of equality and discrimination needs to not only be addressed in Poland but across the whole E Approximately 100 Polish towns have declared that they are LBGTQ free zones which although is essentially a symbolic notion and not enshrined in law, has provided significant ammunition for hostility and intolerance against the gay community.