Polish town changes mind on ‘anti-LGBTQ+’ stance after threat of losing EU funding

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A town in Poland is dropping its official anti-LGBTQ+ stance in favour of being non-discriminatory, reportedly at the risk of losing out on funding.

In March 2019, the local council in Świdnik, in the country’s east, adopted a declaration to have the county be “free from ‘LGBT’ ideology”, including not allowing “homopropaganda”, alongside other parts of Poland.

About a third of Poland made declarations of this sort since 2019, driven by an upswing in anti-LGTBQ+ sentiment from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Polish blog Notes From Poland stated the decision to remove the anti-LGBTQ+ declaration comes amidst fear Świdnik could lose millions of euros in European funding.

Świdnik had reportedly previously already lost funding from the Norwegian Government in 2021 for the same reason.

Local councillors privately said changing the declaration was to ensure access to funding, Notes from Poland stated local media reporting.

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The blog reported the council’s opposition bloc head, Mariusz Wilk, as telling Polish publication Onet that Świdnik’s budget would be at risk without receiving funds from the European Union.

“In my opinion, this is the only reason that [this change] prevailed.”

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PiS-linked council member Marcia Magier said the new declaration reflects both “values ​​such as tolerance and respect for minority rights but also those related to family and parenthood”.

It would not be the first time a Polish region has appeared to make such a move to secure funding.

The first was the small town of Nowa Dęba in January 2021 – its leaders going on to claim “the council’s intentions have been misunderstood”.

Later in 2021, the Council of Europe told Poland to annul so-called LGBT-free zones.

Other towns, like Klwów and Istebna in July 2020, had their ‘zones’ annulled by courts as being unconstitutional.

Poland is due to have an election later in 2023, with recent United Surveys polling, published by Wirtualna Polska, PiS is still the most popular political party.

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