'No place for it': Outrage over country's 'LGBT-free' zones

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Poland’s “LGBT-free” zones are causing uproar with the EU’s president saying they have “no place” in Europe.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her first State of the Union address, said that “LGBT-free zones,” are “humanity-free zones.”

“They have no place in our Union,” von der Leyen said, adding that the commission would soon put forward a strategy to strengthen LGBT rights in Europe.

She did not mention Poland by name, but did not need to.

Activists shouting slogans during the march. People took part in the "March of Normality" organised by the National-Radical Camp (ONR) and the Autonomic Nationalists of Bialystok.
People take part in the 'March of Normality' against LGBT 'propaganda' in Poland on Sunday. Source: AAP

About one-third of Poles now live in communities that have passed resolutions declaring their opposition to the promotion of LGBT rights.

The resolutions carry no binding legal powers, but they are seen by critics as discriminatory. Most were approved in the conservative eastern and southern areas of Poland.

In one such example, a resolution passed last year by the legislature of Malopolska, the region surrounding the Polish city of Krakow, expressed “firm opposition to the emerging public activities aimed at promoting the ideology of LGBT movements.”

A supporter wears a protective face mask, holding a rainbow flag during the march. LGBT supporters participate in the 4th Edition of the Equality Parade in Katowice, guarded by hundreds of police officers and attracting more than 1500 participants.
Polish residents take part in the Equality Parade in Katowice earlier this month. Source: AAP

The resolution said such activities “interfere with the social order” and were “oriented at the annihilation of values shaped by the centuries-old heritage of Christianity.”

Similar assertions are often expressed at the highest levels of government in Poland and by the powerful Catholic church.

Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the right-wing Law and Justice party that has governed Poland since 2015, recently called the LGBT rights movement “a threat to the very foundations of our civilisation.”

Barbara Nowak, the education superintendent in the Malopolska voivodeship, prays the rosary in front of St Mary's Basilica during an anti-LGBT gathering at the Main Square in Krakow, Poland.
People pray in front of St Mary's Basilica during an anti-LGBT gathering at the Main Square in Krakow, Poland last year. Source: Getty Images

Polish President Andrzej Duda won reelection in July after a campaign in which he called the LGBT movement an “ideology” more dangerous than communism.

In her European Parliament address on Wednesday, von der Leyen countered such rhetoric.

“I will not rest when it comes to building a union of equality,” Ms von der Leyen said.

“A Union where you can be who you are and love who you want – without fear of recrimination or discrimination.”

She added “being yourself is not your ideology”.

“It’s your identity and no one can ever take it away,” she said.

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