Poland loses millions in EU funding due to hateful ‘LGBT-free’ zones


Poland’s commitment to homophobia has cost one ‘LGBT-free zone’ millions in funding after Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein all cancelled a prestigious grant.

The southeastern Polish region of Podkarpackie in the Carpathian Mountains had applied for the EU‘s culture and natural heritage project, which offers a £1.65 million ($2.25 million) funding boost.

That’s now been cancelled thanks to a resolution Podkarpackie passed in 2019 “expressing opposition to the promotion and affirmation of the ideology of the so-called LGBT movements”.

The guaranteed grant was withdrawn in September, but the decision only came to light on Tuesday (2 February) when Polish LGBT+ activist Bartosz Staszewski published three letters exchanged between Norwegian and Polish officials.

“By adopting a resolution explicitly referring to ‘LGBT’ or ‘LGBT ideology’ the lead partner discriminates against an identifiable group of persons,” a Norwegian official wrote at the time.

The grant had been intended to enhance the route through the Carpathian mountains, with the money going towards “discovering, promoting and protecting the cultural and natural wealth of the Carpathian region”.

As Staszewski said, “the project was to translate into prestige and many years of promotion of the region in Europe,” but now “instead of the Carpathian Trail, tourists will see the most expensive LGBT-free zone in Poland”.

A spokeswoman for Norway’s foreign ministry confirmed by email that the letters published by Staszewski were genuine, but declined to give further details.

Neither Poland’s foreign and regional development ministries nor Podkarpackie’s government agreed to comment on the matter.

The region is the latest of several LGBT-free zones to lose EU funding, signalling growing international pressure on Poland over its openly homophobic stance.

A number of regions lost out on grants after their twin towns in neighbouring countries severed the relationship; others have seen their pandemic recovery funds threatened due to “the risk of discrimination”.

Last week one LGBT-free zone became the first in Poland to withdraw its hateful legislation, belatedly claiming it was all “a misunderstanding”.