World

The European Union is Now An “LGBTQ-Freedom Zone”

READING TIME ~ 3 MINUTES
  1. What was the European Union’s Resolution?
  2. What prompted the EU to make this decision now?
  3. What does this mean for members of the LGBTQ community?

1: What was the European Union’s Resolution?

The EU passed a resolution that stated that the EU is a “LGBTQ freedom zone.” The resolution declared that “LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the EU should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination or persecution.”

EU citizens celebrate after the union’s resolution (Getty Images)

2: What prompted the EU to make this decision now?

Within the past two years, hundreds of cities in Poland (a member nation of the European Union) have declared that they are “LGBTQ-free” zones, which were defined as regions that are unwelcoming to members of this community and its teachings. As of now, over ⅓ of the entire Polish population, about 10 million people, reside in one of these areas.

Red areas in the map of Poland represent the areas with “LGBTQ-free zones” (Bart Staszewski)

Most of these cities have Catholic constituents and leadership who claim that members of the LGBTQ community threaten family values since they are “non-traditional.” Although the “LGBTQ-free zones” are mostly symbolic and unenforceable, they do show just how committed the Polish government is toward rejecting members of the LGBTQ community. 

This EU Resolution was passed as the Polish government started pushing for more legislation  restricting the freedoms of LGBTQ members. On Friday, Poland passed laws to close legal loopholes that previously allowed same-sex couples to adopt children. Hours later, the EU passed their resolution stating that all of the EU is a “LGBTQ-freedom zone.” 

3: What does this mean for members of the LGBTQ community?

This resolution sets the record straight in all of Europe: discrimination against anyone based on their sexual identity or gender will not be tolerated. This comes at a time when anti-LGBTQ sentiment in the EU has risen to higher levels than in the past. According to an extensive study done by the EU, 43% of members of the LGBTQ community felt safe in 2012, and this number declined to 37% by 2020. This declaration is important in how it shows that the EU is dedicated to representing their interests as well. 

However, the EU will face challenges enforcing this resolution in other parts of its union. Many Catholic/Orthodox Christian and post-Communist countries strongly oppose homosexuality. As shown by the graph below, same-sex marriage is still illegal in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe. 

Map showing where EU nations stand on same-sex marriages. As shown by the graph, most European nations that oppose it are located in Central and Eastern Europe. (Pew Research Center)

The EU will face one of its biggest challenges in Poland. On Saturday, Poland responded to the EU’s resolution by proclaiming that the EU is overstepping their control. The nation claimed it has the right to defend its own constituents’ beliefs, even conservative Catholic ones. 

Based on this message, it seems unlikely that Poland will bring forth much change. In the past, the EU has attempted freezing funding to a few of the cities that have these zones and other anti-LGBTQ laws, but the Polish government responded by supplying these lost funds themselves. It’s possible the outcome may be different if the EU followed this approach in hundreds of Polish cities instead of just a handful. 


TL;DR

  1. In the past 2 years, hundreds of cities in Poland, an EU member nation, have declared themselves “LGBTQ-free zones.”
  2. These zones are defined as areas where the “LGBTQ ideology” and members of this group are not welcome. 1 out of every 3 people in Poland, or 10 million people, live in one of these areas. 
  3. The Polish government supports these zones, and even recently passed legislation that makes it illegal for same-sex couples to adopt. 
  4. To combat this rise in anti-LGBTQ sentiment, the EU passed a resolution that stated the EU is an “LGBTQ-Freedom zone,” declaring that all LGBTQ people in European countries should live without fear of intolerance or discrimination.
  5. However, enforcement of this resolution remains to be seen. Poland has already rejected it as a threat to the nation’s sovereignty. 

Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56366750

https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-54191344

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/11/meps-vote-to-declare-the-european-union-an-lgbtiq-freedom-zone

https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/10/world/lgbt-free-poland-intl-scli-cnnphotos/

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/european-union-launches-lgbtq-protection-strategy-homophobia-rises-east-n1247730

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