Six Polish towns that designated themselves as “LGBT-free zones” have now been deemed ineligible to receive funding from a European Union grant.
The grant in question is an annual program in which the EU allows cities in its member countries to apply for “town twinning.” Under this program, the accepted cities are paired with another accepted city, making them sister cities. These partnerships allow the cities “to concentrate on common issues which can sometimes be very specific, such as water management, economic development, or the improvement of social services,” according to the Council of European Municipalities and Regions’ website.
The news of the six Polish cities — which have not been individually named — being rejected from the program came about after Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality, announced the refusal because of their resolutions opposing LGBTQ+ people and denying them rights. According to a report by the New York Times, the six cities will miss out on anywhere from $6,000 to $29,000 in funding.
“EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities,” Dalli wrote in a tweet. “This is why six town-twinning applications involving Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected.”
The ban of these six Polish cities is not the first attempt to condemn Poland’s “LGBT-free zones” by the EU. At the end of 2019, members called on Polish authorities to internally condemn any resolutions that attack the LGBTQ+ community.
While the LGBTQ+ community is given some housing and employment protections, there have been a number of attacks lobbed at them in recent years. In July 2019, Pride marchers in Bialystok had bottles, firecrackers, and rocks thrown at them by onlookers. Andrej Duda, Poland’s conservative president, was also recently re-elected despite a controversial campaign in which he referred to LGBTQ+ rights as “destructive to man.”