MEPs stage kaleidoscopic show of solidarity with Poland’s queer community and demand EU ‘finally act’ on LGBT-free zones

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MEPs dressed in the colours of the rainbow flags have urged the EU to take action to investigate fomenting of anti-LGBT extremism in Poland. (Supplied by Intergroup on LGBTI Rights)

MEPs dressed in the colours of the rainbow flag have urged the EU to take action to investigate the fomenting of anti-LGBT+ extremism in Poland.

Queer people have sounded the alarm over a rising tide of anti-LGBT+ hatred in Poland, where politicians from the ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party have stoked homophobia with a series of high-profile attacks on the supposed “LGBT agenda”, while local governments have declared “LGBT+ free zones” now covering more than a third of the country.

EU leaders have been urged to help safeguard the rights of the LGBT+ community in Poland, with gay Polish politician Robert Biedron likening the “dehumanisation” of the LGBT+ community to the treatment of Jewish people before World War Two — echoing a similar warning from the country’s Jewish leaders.

On Monday (September 14), 32 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) called on European Commission president Urusla von der Leyen to act on the issue.

The group showed their support for Poland’s LGBT+ community by dressing in the colours of the Pride flag — re-enacting a protest made by brave opposition politicians in the country in August.

MEPs: ‘Every single week we receive messages of despair from Poland’

In a powerful speech in the European Parliament, German MEP Terry Reintke, co-chair of the LGBTI Intergroup, said: “I can tell you that every week, every single week we receive more messages of worry, and sometimes I must say, despair, from the LGBTI community in Poland.

“Every week there are new attacks. Every week, there are new lies spread, there is new anti LGBTI propaganda.

“I don’t know what to tell them anymore, because they all ask the same question: When is the European Union finally going to act? The silence of the commission over this summer has been screaming into the faces of all of those people whose rights are under attack right now.”

She continued: “I urge you, do something, start an infringement procedure against LGBTI free zones in Poland, now.”

Reintke, who is a lesbian, continued: “”I hope that Mr Duda is watching, but also to our colleagues from the Polish ruling party in this chamber: Look at me. Look at [my LGBT+ colleagues]. We are not an ideology.

“We are human beings we are made out of flesh and blood, we want to have exactly the same fundamental human rights like everyone else.

“And I know that deep inside of you, you actually know that, so stop using us and the LGBTI community in Poland for your disgusting political agenda.”

MEPs dressed in the colours of the rainbow flags have urged the EU to take action to investigate fomenting of anti-LGBT extremism in Poland.
MEPs dressed in the colours of the rainbow flags have urged the EU to take action to investigate fomenting of anti-LGBT extremism in Poland. (Supplied by Intergroup on LGBTI Rights)

EU leaders must act over ‘climate of fear’.

French MEP Pierre Karleskind added: “We are here in support of LGBTI people in Poland, to tell them that they are not alone and that they have allies in this chamber for whom respect for the values of the European Union is an unassailable horizon.

“But above all we want to send a clear message to the European Commission, on the eve of president von der Leyen’s speech on the state of the union: Enough words, enough promises, we demand action.

“The current situation in Poland is unbearable. A climate of fear is inexorably building up for LGBTI activists and people, which is intolerable in our union.”

Luxembourgish MEP Marc Ange added: “We will keep pressing the Commission and the Council to do their part and to stand up squarely for the defence of fundamental rights in the European Union.”

MEPs have vowed to stand up to anti-LGBT+ extremism in Poland
MEPs have vowed to stand up to anti-LGBT+ extremism in Poland. (Supplied by Intergroup on LGBTI Rights)

Also on Monday, more than 400 LGBT+ people in Poland who face the risk of discrimination in the country submitted legal complaints to the European Commission about so-called family charters and “LGBT+ free zones”, which they argue breach EU directives on non-discrimination and employment rights.

Polish LGBT+ rights organisations KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) and Fundacja Równości (The Equality Foundation) joined ILGA-Europe in submitting their own complaints.

Mirosława Makuchowska of KPH said: “LGBT people living in so-called ‘LGBT-free zones’ cannot wait any longer. Hundreds of complaints have been sent to EC as fundamental rights are being violated on a daily basis.

“It’s high time for both EC and the Council to act — the citizens are calling for the immediate trigger of infringement procedure and to finally act.”

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