As of June 2020, nearly 100 regions and towns in Poland are officially “LGBT-free zones”. As statistically wrong as this may sound, these districts proudly claim that the LGBT “ideology” is not at all present within their borders, totally ignoring many gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) citizens. These resolutions, even though they are mostly symbolic, are providing fresh fuel in Poland’s cultural war and are keeping the fear of social exclusion very much alive for the EU’s sexual minorities.
The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, spoke out against these zones, in her first ‘state of union’ speech, stating that “LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones. And they have no place in our union.” Although welcoming, these statements do little to ease the fear of LGBTQ people in Poland, who face continuous hatred by their fellow Poles. EU actions will be essential in bringing peace to Polish society and should focus on:
- Demonstrating the EU’s condemnation of such practices
- Supporting activist groups and LGBTQ-friendly businesses inside the country
- Utilizing the Union’s soft power to ensure a slow but sure change towards acceptance.