Polish ‘LGBT-free zone’ refuses entry to gay French minister who vowed to ‘fight for tolerance’

Clément Beaune

Clément Beaune, France’s minister for European affairs, has said he was denied access to one of Poland’s so-called LGBT-free zones ahead of his trip to the country this week.

The minister vowed to visit Poland to draw attention to the country’s harsh climate for LGBT+ people after he came out as gay in December 2020.

However, Beaune told French publication l’Obs that Polish authorities stopped him from visiting the town of Krasnik, one of the numerous locations around the country that has declared itself an “LGBT+ free zone”, when he asked for permission.

“Polish authorities recently indicated to me that they weren’t capable of planning this visit, and I profoundly regret it,” Beaune said. “It is a decision that I deplore.”

According to Beaune’s spokesperson, authorities in Poland said the visit could not go ahead because of “the difficulties of the health situation” with COVID-19.

Beaune decided to push ahead with his visit to Poland, but decided he would not defy Polish authorities by visiting the LGBT+ free zone without permission.

“In my eyes, that is not how you should behave with an EU member state,” he said.

Clément Beaune will meet with LGBT+ organisations in Poland

The minister decided not to postpone his trip until COVID-19 is under control, saying he believes the problems “would have been the same”.

Instead, he pushed ahead with his trip to Poland so he could draw attention to other human rights issues in the country, such as recent threats to abortion access.

He will also meet with LGBT+ organisations during his visit to Poland this week.

Clément Beaune came out as gay in an interview with French magazine Têtu in December, saying he wanted people to see that being queer is “not an obstacle” to a career in politics.

In the same interview, he said he would challenge Poland on its LGBT+ free zones – but said he was not doing so because of his own sexuality.

“I wouldn’t want people to say I am fighting against ‘LGBT-free zones’ because I am gay,” Beaune said.

“It would be insulting to say I am leading that fight for myself.

“However, as European affairs minister, I have an additional responsibility. I must fight for tolerance,” he said.