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Polish regions renounce anti-LGBT stances to protect EU funds

Polish regions renounce anti-LGBT stances to protect EU funds

4 out of 5 regions in Poland have abandoned their so-called LGBT-free zones

On Tuesday, 28 September, the local parliaments of three Polish provinces voted to withdraw their anti-LGBT resolutions, for fear of losing EU funds, as local media reported. Adding to a similar decision taken by Świętokrzyskie last week, this leaves only one Polish region to still support such a declaration.

The move is tied to the fact that the EU put on hold 126 million euros from the COVID-19 Recovery Fund and threatened to do the same with a few billion euros from the Cohesion Fund, until the matter with these anti-LGBT resolutions is addressed. Said funds are by definition essential to less-developed regions.

Funds trump beliefs

Thus, Podkarpackie, Lubelskie and Małopolskie provinces (or voivodeships, as they are known in Poland), have repealed their declarations, opposing “LGBT ideology”. The only region to still hold such a declaration, albeit not directly opposed to this community, is Łódź – they still maintain a charter of family rights, which states that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

While the anti-LGBT rhetoric is maintained by the PiS (Law and Justice) government and the party’s decentralised structures, there is an obvious evolution in the attitudes, which is without any doubt, caused by the risk of losing millions in European funding. This way, the declarations could have only been repealed or amended upon an initiative by the opposition but with either the abstention (Małopolskie) or the approval by some PiS representatives (as was the case in Lublin, where the LGBT references have been removed).

These regions are home to a significant part of Poland’s population, yet the anti-LBGT administrative movement persists at the lower levels of government, as numerous municipalities maintain pro-family charters and even the so-called LGBT-free zones.

This is in contrast to the large opposition-led cities and metropolises, among which Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk and Poznan. Their mayors have recently called for the respect of equality and tolerance, after the European Parliament voted in March to declare the whole EU an "LGBTIQ Freedom Zone".

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