European Parliament demands EU action over Poland LGBT+ rights breaches

by Rachel Savage | @rachelmsavage | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 17 September 2020 15:26 GMT

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives her first State of the Union speech during a plenary session of European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium September 16, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

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Poland has increasingly clashed with the European Union over LGBT+ rights and the rule of law

By Rachel Savage

LONDON, Sept 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - 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.

Related stories:

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Poland's anti-LGBT+ tirade similar to pre-war 'dehumanising' of Jews, MEP says

LGBT+ activist behind 'Polish Stonewall' not afraid to die

(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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