European Parliament criticizes LGBT-free zones in Poland

During a debate on LGBT+ discrimination in the European Parliament, several MEPs strongly criticized Poland. In the Eastern European country, various municipalities and regions have declared themselves an "LGBT-free zone". Polish MEPs tried to emphasize how tolerant Poland is.
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Although the debate in the European Parliament would concern the entire EU, Poland was most under attack. Dutch MEP Sofie in ’t Veld (Renew) strongly condemned Poland’s policy: “It is a violation of Human Rights, it is a violation of international law and it has no place in the European Union. It has to stop,” she emphasized referring to the 'LGBT-free zones'. “If you want to eliminate, erase a whole part of the population, there is a word for it and I’m not going to name it. It’s not just discrimination.”

German MEP Terry Reintke (Greens) held up a map which showed the regions in Poland that have declared themselves “LGBT-free”. “Imagine growing up in one of these regions as a young gay, lesbian or trans person. Being a teenager is not easy, especially when you are LGBTI. You probably have a lot of questions that you don’t want to discuss with your parents. But in your school, you cannot discuss it with anyone, because your teachers are not supposed to talk about this. And then your city council unanimously approves a motion that states you supposedly go against the laws of nature. How would you feel? Alone. Abandoned. Scared.” MEP Kim van Sparrentak (Greens) stated that the EU is not doing enough to protect children, if elected officials in Poland are allowed to create LGBTI-free zones and make kids feel unwelcome in their own community.

The openly lesbian Maria Walsh (EPP) emphasized that everyone has the right to be treated with respect. "I am an LGBTQI person, I am a practicing Catholic, I am Irish, I am European. And no one has the right to tell me where I should live and how I should live.”

"Poland is one of the most tolerant countries in Europe"

Polish MEPs defended the Polish policy during the debate. According to Beata Kempa (ECR), Christians were discriminated against by participants in Pride marches. "Christian symbols were attacked," she claimed, referring to the image of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo, which was used during a Pride march in Poland. Patryk Jaki (ECR) emphasized that Poland is "one of the most tolerant countries in Europe", but that it does have the right to defend Christian values.

The last speaker was the Flemish trans MEP Petra de Stutter (Greens). She said to be "saddened" by some parliamentarians’ statements. “In my childhood I was told not to be different, that girls should be girls and boys should be boys, that boys should love girls and vice versa. This was dictated by religious beliefs. I didn’t believe I would be confronted with that again. The agenda has been hijacked by politicians, by nationalists, populists that want to use it in autocratic regimes. From our belief in our true values, based on universal human rights, we have to fight this every day again.”

According to outgoing European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, the European Commission condemns the developments in Poland. “Any form of discrimination, intolerance or violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity goes against the fundamental values of the European Union.”

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the matter of "LGBT-free zones" in December.

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