Spanish prosecutor investigates whether neo-Nazi march was a hate crime
BRUSSELS – The executive branch of the European Union, the European Commission, last week sent letters to the governors of five voivodeships in Poland (provinces) warning that pandemic relief funds totaling more than 126 million euros ($ 150 million) will be withheld because of anti-LGBTQ measures adopted in their jurisdictions.
The European Commission, which is primarily responsible for proposing legislation, applying EU laws and directing EU administrative operations, briefed the governors and government of Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki that the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) Recovery Aid for Europe’s Cohesion and Territories (REACT-EU) would be canceled on the so-called “LGBTQ free zones” established in the five provinces.
Poland has seen a resurgence in the past three years of ultra-conservative right-wing religious groups backed by nationalist extremists in the strongly Catholic country of 38 million people, which has led to the adoption of measures to restrict parades pride and other LGBTQ + friendly events. .
Supporters of the measures claim that provinces must be “free from LGBTQ ideology,” claiming this is mandated by average Poles as well as the anti-LGBTQ + views of the Catholic Church.
Last month, two separate LGBTQ equality marches known as marsze równości were held on Saturday under a heavy police presence in the southern city of Częstochowa and the Baltic port city of Gdańsk.
Polish media RMF24 did not report any major incidents or violence during the two marches, unlike the marches the previous year where clashes with anti-LGBTQ + Polish nationalists, far-right conservative and Catholic protesters disrupted the marches. steps and injuries had been inflicted. Local governments had increased their police presence to prevent incidents that would have led to violent counter-demonstrations.
The 26-year-old leader of a far-right regional youth organization in Opole, southwestern Poland, Bartlomiej Czuchnowski, who had gone to the Częstochowa march to protest, told The Associated Press; “It’s an obvious provocation, because LGBT circles have always been anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, you could even say. So their march in this direction, in the heart of the Polish nation, in the heart of Polish Catholicism, is an open provocation. “
Although several Polish courts have weighed in ruling the measures unconstitutional, little has been done to mitigate them.
In July 2020, Polish anti-LGBTQ president Andrzej Duda was re-elected. Activists sharply criticized Duda – the leader of Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party – for his anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Duda in June of last year said that LGBTQ “ideology” is more harmful than communism.
Justyna Nakielska of Kampania Przeciw Homofobii, a Polish LGBTQ rights group, told Blade international editor Michael Lavers that Duda publicly described LGBTQ Poles as “a threat to the family” and said that they “wanted to sexualize the children”.
Last June, the leaders of 17 European Union countries signed a letter urging the EU to tackle anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The EU has also denounced the anti-LGBTQ measures taken more recently in Hungary.
ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based advocacy group promoting the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people, at European level, in a statement it sent to Blade in June after the publication of the letter from the The EU notes that Hungary and Poland, another EU country in which lawmakers have sought to restrict LGBTQ rights in recent years, disagree with the EU’s position on LGBTQ + people.
“For some time now, we have been informing EU ministers about systematic violations of EU law by Hungary and Poland, which have an impact on LGBTI rights and the lives of LGBTI people,” says ILGA -Europe.
“This week’s developments seem to suggest that the European Commission and a number of Member States have finally heeded this call. It is time to continue the action and to pursue its values and responsibilities as guardians of EU law, respecting the important commitments made this week.
The European Commission and the Polish government did not respond to requests for comment.