EU warns Polish regions could lose funding in ‘LGBT-free’ areas


People attend the “Equality Parade” rally in support of the LGBT community, in Warsaw, Poland on June 19, 2021. REUTERS / Kacper Pempel

WARSAW, September 6 (Reuters) – The European Commission has written to five Polish regional councils urging them to drop claims that they are “LGBT-free” in order to receive funding, one of the councils concerned confirmed on Monday.

The EU executive is at odds with Poland and Hungary on issues ranging from LGBT rights to press freedom. In July, he launched a lawsuit against the two countries for discriminatory measures against the gay community. Read more

Polish LGBT activists posted a scan of the letter on social media and on Monday a spokesperson for the Lubelskie region confirmed having received it. A spokeswoman for the European Commission in Warsaw also confirmed that the letter had been sent.

“The Commission would like to stress that declaring LGBTIQ-

territories, workplaces or free or undesirable services constitutes an action contrary to the values ​​set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, ”the letter said.

He added that additional funding under part of the bloc’s COVID stimulus fund would be suspended pending responses from regions to the Commission’s concerns.

The funds are part of REACT-EU (Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe), a set of additional cohesion funds under which Poland has received a total of over € 1.5 billion.

“At the moment, it (the letter) is being analyzed in order to prepare a response,” the spokesperson for the Lubelskie region said in an email.

The regions of Lubelskie and Malopolska both recently voted to remain free from “LGBT ideology”. Read more

Gay rights are a deeply divisive issue in a predominantly Catholic Poland.

Many religious conservatives see the struggle for LGBT equality as an attack on traditional values. In 2019, many local authorities declared themselves free from “LGBT ideology”, seeking to ban what they see as the promotion of homosexuality and other minority sexual identities, especially in schools.

A spokesperson for the European Commission could not be reached immediately to comment on the letter. The Polish Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Poland also angered Brussels by asking its Constitutional Court to rule on the primacy of its constitution over EU law.

The rule of EU law is a key principle of European integration, and European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has said that Poland’s questioning of this principle is delaying acceptance of its spending plan for the funds. stimulus. Read more

Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw and Foo Yun Chee in Brussels, written by Alan Charlish; Editing by Dan Grebler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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