French minister says Poland threatened to cancel meetings over LGBT activism

·2-min read

A French minister said Thursday that the Polish government had threatened to cancel his official meetings during a trip to the country if he visited a village that has declared itself an "LGBT-ideology free zone".

During a two-day trip to Poland this week, Europe Minister Clement Beaune, who is gay, had planned to stop in the village of Krasnik to highlight its anti-LGBT stance.

"They didn't want me to go there. They didn't physically prevent me, it was political pressure," Beaune told France Inter radio.

He said he was informed that "if I went there, there wouldn't be any official meetings during the trip."

Beaune, who came out publicly as gay in December, has previously called the existence of "LGBT-free zones" in Poland an "absolute scandal" amid a long-running row between the EU and the populist right-wing Polish government.

Beaune decided not to visit Krasnik, but he met gay and women's rights activists in Warsaw. He held talks with his counterpart in the Polish government, Konrad Szymanski, on Tuesday.

He has vowed to return to the country and travel to one of the anti-gay zones.

"I think it's serious, but I don't want to cause a controversy with a government," Beaune said. "What is very serious is the situation on the ground, not my personal case."

With support from the government, several regions have declared themselves free from "LGBT ideology" in Poland to protest against support for gay rights from Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, an opposition leader.

Polish Deputy Foreign Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek said that Beaune had not been prevented from visiting Krasnik.

"No Polish authority forbade or prevented the French minister from visiting Krasnik. These kinds of suggestions are not conducive to the good atmosphere surrounding the visit and to our relationship," he wrote on Twitter earlier in the week.

"We will clarify this matter with the French embassy."

Human Rights Watch called the Polish government's decision to pressure Beaune "shameful".

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