KEY POINTS

  • The EU blocked applications to its "town-twinning" program for at least six Polish towns for homophobic and transphobic policies
  • Polish officials have pushed back at the block, saying the EU needs to respect the practices of member countries under its own treaties and charters
  • Right-wing Polish President Andrzej Duda has worked to stiffle any progress to legalize gay marriage in Poland and proposed blocking adoptions by same-sex couples

The European Union denied funding to a half dozen towns in Poland that have declared themselves “LGBTI-free zones.” At least six towns have adopted policies considered homophobic and transphobic.

“EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by member states and state authorities,” European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli said. “This is why six town-twinning applications involving Polish authorities that adopted 'LGBTI free zones' or 'family rights' resolutions were rejected.”

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders echoed Dalli,  criticizing Poland for its discrimination of the LGBTI community.

“Discrimination of any kind can never be tolerated in the EU,” Reynders said. “The Union values must be upheld in all the EU funded programmes.”

The six towns, which have not been named, previously applied for grants provided under the “town twinning” program, which promotes peaceful relations and “reinforce mutual understanding” between two communities in separate EU countries. It also provides an additional $29,000 in funding to communities participating in the program.

Applications by Polish towns not declared “LGBTI-free zone” were approved by the EU.

It’s the latest move to sever ties with Polish communities by neighboring countries because of homophobic and transphobic policies adopted under right-wing President Andrzej Duda. One such policy was the “family charter,” which promises to “ban the propagation of LGBT ideology in public institutions.” Duda also has tried to halt legalization of same-sex marriage and prevent same-sex couples from adopting children.

Some Polish officials have pushed back, saying the EU overstepped its bounds by denying the funding. Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said the decision was “unfounded and unlawful,” and the EU should reverse its decision immediately. He argued under the EU’s charter, the views and practices of residents within its 27 member countries need to be respected.

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