‘LGBT-free zones’ are humanity-free zones and have no place in the European Union, says president Ursula von der Leyen

The President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has condemned the introduction of ‘LGBT-free zones’ in Poland, insisting they have “no place” within the European Union.

Queer people have sounded the alarm over a rising tide of anti-LGBT+ hatred in Poland, where politicians from the ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party have stoked homophobia with a series of high-profile attacks on the supposed “LGBT agenda”, while local governments have declared “LGBT+ free zones” now covering more than a third of the country.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen: ‘LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones.’

Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, heeded calls from MEPs to address the issue in a speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday (16 September).

The German politician said: “I will not rest when it comes to building a union of equality.

“A union where you can be who you are and love who you want – without fear of recrimination or discrimination.

“Because being yourself is not your ideology. It’s your identity, and no one can ever take it away.

“So I want to be crystal clear – LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones. And they have no place in our union.”

She added: “And to make sure that we support the whole community, the European Commission will soon put forward a strategy to strengthen LGBT+ rights.

“As part of this, I will also push for mutual recognition of family relations in the EU. If you are parent in one country, you are parent in every country.”

She did not single out Poland by name, however, or outline any specific measures that would be taken to challenge the country on the issue.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Poland accused of breaching EU directives with anti-LGBT+ hysteria.

On Monday, more than 400 LGBT+ people in Poland who face the risk of discrimination in the country submitted legal complaints to the European Commission about so-called family charters and “LGBT-free zones”, which they argue breach EU directives on non-discrimination and employment rights.

Polish LGBT+ rights organisations KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) and Fundacja Równości (The Equality Foundation) joined ILGA-Europe in submitting their own complaints.

Mirosława Makuchowska of KPH said: “LGBT+ people living in so-called ‘LGBT-free zones’ cannot wait any longer. Hundreds of complaints have been sent to EC as fundamental rights are being violated on a daily basis.

“It’s high time for both EC and the Council to act – the citizens are calling for the immediate trigger of infringement procedure and to finally act.”

Miko Czerwiński of Fundacja Równości added: “Working in so-called ‘LGBT-free zones’ we see what detrimental effect this is having on LGBT+ people.

“They are losing their jobs or contracts, are excluded from local communities and are being violently attacked in their own cities.

“Fundacja Równość have also submitted complaints to the EC as we were denied access to an EU-funded cultural centre with the argument that we wanted to hold an ‘ideological event’, while a homophobic event was allowed to go ahead.

“The examples of discrimination and violence provided in all of the 400 individual complaints sent to the EC show how seriously Poland is violating fundamental rights.”