Poland's LGBT Free Zones
By Lauren Benson
Many small towns in Poland have declared themselves LGBT free zones. Members of the LGBTQ+ community who already live in these towns now have to decide whether to move, hide their identity from the public, or choose to take a stand and be who they are. Nearly a third of Polish areas have been declared “free from LGBT ideology,” according to the New York Times. Polish journalist Tomasz Sakiewicz has even gone as far to compare “LBGT ideology” to communism, saying “Communists used to wave the red flag and told people they were fighting for the poor, for the workers, for the peasants. Now these activists hold up a rainbow flag and say they are fighting for sexual minorities. It was not and it is not true.” Sakiewicz goes on to tell a BBC News reporter that since Poland has “lived through communist times we have a duty to tell others how dangerous it can be.”
Paweł Jabłoński, an advisor to the prime minister of Poland, stated that these “LGBT free” zones have “no actual meaning in terms of regulation,” basically saying that these “LGBT free” zones are not being legally enforced. Same sex relationships are legal in Poland and have been since the 1930’s, but gay marriage is not legal. According to CNN, there is no indication that being gay will become a crime in Poland any time soon. So a LGBT person in one of these “LGBT free” zones may not be persecuted by the police or thrown in jail, but they will not be welcomed by the townspeople. LGBT individuals are likely to be greeted with hate speech or hate crimes in these zones. Most polish politicians are homophobic, the president of Poland, Anderzej Duda, strongly opposes the “LGBT ideology,” saying that it is more destructive than communism. Polish politician, Jarosław Kaczyński, has repeatedly said that Poles will not be “forced to stand under the rainbow flag.”
Poland is considered to be one of the least progresssive countries in the European Union, with regards to LGBTQ+ rights. The European Union, or EU, supports LGBT rights, and have been denying funding to some of these self proclaimed “LGBT free” towns and cities. The head of European commission, Ursula von der Layen, stuck up for LGBT rights in her first state of the union address, saying “LGBT free zones are humanity free zones. And they have no place in our union.” One of the cities denied funding by the EU is Tuchow. Tuchow’s funding was cut by the European Union, after they declared themselves “LGBT free,” but now the state will be increasing their funding, with Poland's justice minister’s support.
With issues like this still happening in the 21st century, it is clear that there is work to be done when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. Being gay is still punishable by death in several countires. In Nigeria, 97 percent of the population believe homosexuality should not be accepted by society. Transgender woman of color have a life expentacy of just 35 years in America. Homophobia and transphobia are prevalent around the world, not just in Poland. Fights for LGBTQ+ rights are happening across the globe.
Photo from politico.eu