A third of Poland has declared itself to be an official “LGBT-free” zone as local municipalities sign a pledge adopting resolutions against “LGBT propaganda”.
Nearly 100 Polish municipal or local governments have now proclaimed themselves to be “free from LGBTI ideology”. Local authorities in these areas pledge to refrain from acts that encourage tolerance and must avoid providing financial assistance to NGOs working to promote equal rights.
An “Atlas of Hate” map created by activists reveals the extent of Poland that has signed up to this pledge – and it covers an area greater than the size of Hungary.
The area has continued to grow after the European Parliament passed a resolution that strongly condemned the concept of LGBT-free zones in December.
MEPs described the measures as part of “a broader context of attacks against the LGBTI community in Poland, which include growing hate speech by public and elected officials and public media, as well as attacks and bans on Pride marches and actions such as Rainbow Friday.”
They called on Poland to “firmly condemn” LGBT+ discrimination and to revoke resolutions attacking LGBT+ rights, and instructed the European Commission to ensure that EU funds are not “being used for discriminatory purposes”.
This warning was ignored by the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS), who are largely responsible for driving the upswing anti-LGBT+ sentiment in Poland.
PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński recently secured an election victory with a campaign that was centred on hardline homophobic views. Municipalities started passing the first resolutions against “LGBT propaganda” in March 2019, just as PiS ramped up its anti-LGBT messaging.
In August Kaczyński hit out at Pride parades, telling voters: “This travelling theatre that is showing up in different cities to provoke and then cry… we are the ones who are harmed by this, it must be unmasked and discarded.”
Equality parades in Poland are routinely attacked by far-right activists who violently oppose Pride-goers with homophobic chants and explosive projectiles.
Polish hate crime laws provide little deterrent as they do not cover sexuality or gender identity. Earlier this week, a husband and wife convicted of bringing three deadly homemade explosives to a Pride march in Lubin were sentenced to just one year in prison.