Authorities pledged to make the zone “free of LGBTI ideology” and adopted a range of resolutions against “LGBT propaganda.” For example, they will refrain from acts that encourage tolerance and avoid providing financial assistance to NGOs that promote equal rights.
Human rights groups have condemned the measures as discriminatory and dangerous. Municipalities first started adopting the resolutions back in March 2019, and the size of the LGBT-free zone has since grown to be larger than the size of Hungary.
The resolutions are non-binding and do not include any specific laws or policies. However, they’ve still had a clear impact on LGBT people in Poland.
“The message that it sends is pretty much straightforward,” Vyacheslav Melnyk, director of the local Campaign Against Homophobia, told The Independent in 2019. “There is no place for LGBT people in our community.”
Activists created an “Atlas of Hate” map, which outlines exactly where the LGBT-free zone is. The area continues to expand, despite the European Parliament strongly condemning the concept of LGBT-free zones in December 2019.
Members of the European Parliament said the resolutions are part of “a broader context of attacks against the LGBTI community in Poland, which include growing hate speech by public and elected officials and public media, as well as attacks and bans on Pride marches and actions such as Rainbow Friday.”
Poland’s leading political party, the Law and Justice Party (PiS), began ramping up its anti-LGBTQ+rhetoric at the same time that municipalities started passing the resolutions. PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński said that “LGBT ideology” is a “threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state.” Most of the local authorities adopting the resolutions are PiS members.
Sadly, Polish law does not protect LGBTQ+ people from hate crimes.