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Poland offers support for anti-LGBTQ towns refused EU funding

Polish minister says Brussels’ actions were ‘illegal and unauthorized.’

 

By Zosia Wanat

 

Politico (18.08.2020) – https://politi.co/3b1JauL – Polish towns that were refused EU money because of their anti-LGBTQ views can count on financial support from the government in Warsaw, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said Tuesday.

 

Ziobro, leader of the ultra-conservative United Poland — the junior coalition party in the government headed by Law and Justice (PiS) — and author of sweeping and controversial changes to the judiciary, said he would grant the southern town of Tuchów, which last year signed an anti-LGBTQ charter, 250,000 złoty (€57,000) — three times as much as the town was supposed to get from the European Commission under a citizens’ program for twin municipalities.

 

In July, Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli rejected grants for six Polish towns, including Tuchów, linking the decision to anti-gay declarations. Since 2019, dozens of Polish towns, counties and regions have signed such declarations and charters.

 

Ziobro on Tuesday called Dalli’s decision “persecution” and “ideological revenge,” claiming that local authorities such as Tuchów’s don’t discriminate against anyone but protect traditional family values.

 

“Ms. Dalli’s actions were illegal and unauthorized,” he said. “We can’t leave such municipalities on their own. The Polish state, in a legitimate reaction condemning the European Commission’s action, will stand together with the local authorities and the citizens.”

 

Ziobro said he’d talk to the country’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, about setting up a special “financial mechanism” to help those towns that have been “harassed” by the Commission. He also admitted that the ministry couldn’t identify the other five towns that hadn’t received the EU money.

 

Earlier this month, the Polsat television station reported that some towns that applied to be part of the twinning program and were rejected did not sign anti-LGBTQ declarations. Ziobro on Tuesday said that Dalli might have “punished some of the towns in advance.”

 

The Commission did not disclose the names of the six towns that didn’t receive the money. It did say that some of the rejected applications came from towns elsewhere in Europe that had partnerships with Polish regions that had signed anti-LGBTQ declarations.

 

The row over LGBTQ rights is another chapter of Warsaw’s fight with Brussels. Discussions on the EU’s long-term budget and coronavirus recovery fund contained a proposal to link funding to the rule of law, which proved one of the most contentious in the negotiations as Hungary and Poland opposed a strong link. The final agreement watered down earlier language on the topic.

 

On Monday, a group of famous names — including film director Pedro Almodóvar, writer Margaret Atwood and philosopher Slavoj Žižek — sent a letter to the European Commission, calling on Brussels “to take immediate steps to defend core European values — equality, non-discrimination, respect for minorities — which are being blatantly violated in Poland.”





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French town suspends ties with Polish twin city over LGBT rights

A Polish mayor on Monday deplored the decision by a sister town in France to suspend 25-year official ties with her town because it declared itself an area “free of LGBT ideology.”

 

France 24 (18.02.2020) – https://bit.ly/2HzCeHd – The mayor of the south-eastern town of Tuchow, Magdalena Marszalek, blamed the rare decision by the French community it had been twinned with, Saint-Jean-de-Braye, on campaigning ahead of local elections there.

 

She expressed regret that severing ties will cut friendly relations among residents, as Tuchow will no longer be able to sponsor visits by people from Saint-Jean-de-Braye.

 

Marszalek said many in her community do not identify with the declaration adopted last year by local councilors of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party.

 

The sister municipality in central France suspended ties last week and said in a statement that “France is committed to combating human rights violations based on sexual orientation … We cannot accept that the ties that unite our two cities by a twinning oath be tainted. We condemn the position taken by our twin city of Tuchow.”

 

Tuchow was among other towns in south-eastern Poland that adopted the declaration in May saying they wanted to defend themselves against “radicals … who attack freedom of speech, childhood innocence, the authority of family and school and the freedom of businesspeople.”

 

The declaration came in reaction to Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, an opposition politician, declaring the capital city supportive of the LGBT community and its rights.

 

Poland’s ruling party and other social conservatives say they are trying to protect children and traditional families from being demoralized and corrupted by a growing gay rights movement.


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