EP demands EU action over Poland LGBT+ rights breaches

The European Parliament on Thursday condemned Poland for rolling back LGBT+ rights, and demanded that the European Union take action against the country’s nationalist government, including potentially denying it funding from the bloc.

The Parliament voted by a large majority to adopt a resolution on human rights in the country, where municipalities have set up so-called ‘LGBT-free’ zones.

Poland and the EU have increasingly clashed over LGBT+ rights, which ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) politicians and Catholic bishops have denounced as a foreign ‘ideology’, that threatens traditional values.

EU chief executive, Ursula von der Leyen, on Wednesday condemned ‘LGBT-free zones’, calling them “humanity free zones”.

“We are not an ideology. We are human beings,” Terry Reintke, an MEP who co-chairs the European Parliament’s LGBTI Rights Intergroup, said in a speech directed at PiS on Monday, as the motion was debated in the European Parliament.

Polish government spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment.

Poland and Hungary are already being investigated by the European Commission for potentially breaching EU rules, in Poland’s case undermining democracy by compromising the independence of the judiciary.

The European Parliament motion demanded that infringements against LGBT+ and women’s rights be added to the case against Poland, and that the Commission “make full use of … budgetary tools”.

In July, the EU withheld funding from six ‘LGBT-free zone’ towns, that had applied for a town-twinning scheme.

The EU’s one trillion euro budget for 2021-27, and a linked new economic recovery fund, worth a further 750 billion euros to help repair economic damage from coronavirus, is expected to make access to EU money conditional on democratic values.

“If a member state is in breach of rule of law and fundamental rights, like Poland now, the government should not be able to distribute EU funding any more,” Reintke told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

She said parliament would reject the EU budget, which is currently being negotiated, if it did not include that mechanism.

-Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage – Thomson Reuters Foundation

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