French minister: Poland prevented visit to ‘LGBT-free’ zone

Authorities cited 'difficulties of the health situation,' spokesperson for Clément Beaune said.

French minister: Poland prevented visit to ‘LGBT-free’ zone

French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said he was denied access to what he called an “LGBT-free” zone by Polish authorities during an official visit to the country that began Monday.

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

According to a spokesperson for the French minister, Polish officials said Beaune’s planned visit to the town of Kraśnik would “have been not well received given the difficulties of the health situation.”

Polish authorities had no immediate comment on Beaune’s remarks.

Beaune said he had considered three options: canceling his visit to Poland, postponing it, or following through on his promise to visit the area but without authorization from the government.

“But in my eyes, that is not how you one should behave with an EU member state,” he said of the final option. As to delaying his visit, Beaune said, “To be very honest, I think the problems would have been the same.”

Beaune decided to go ahead with the visit to the country, arriving in Poland on Monday, International Women’s Day.

“If I decided to maintain my visit to Poland, it’s because another topic — just as important in my eyes — has emerged: that of women’s right to abortion,” he said. Poland has one of the EU’s most restrictive abortion laws, after a top court ruled that abortions in the event of fetal deformities are unconstitutional. The verdict sparked large public protests, and more demonstrations were planned for Monday evening.

His schedule still includes meetings with LGBT NGOs, as well as Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, an opposition leader.

Since 2019, local officials throughout Poland have created dozens of largely symbolic “LGBT-ideology free” zones through charters aimed at stigmatizing LGBTQ people.

Last August, the European Commission rejected grants to six Polish cities due to anti-gay declarations. On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a resolution declaring the EU an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone.”

The government insists the measures are misunderstood outside the country.

Patryk Jaki, an MEP with the governing nationalist coalition, told Polish media that the idea there are LGBT-free zones in Poland is a “lie” fostered by gay rights campaigners. “In our country, there is no place where LGBT people can’t go,” he said, adding: “The only thing that exists are declarations by local governments talking about affirming families and traditional values.”

Beaune said he had not given up on his pledge to visit one of the Polish “zones.”

He made the promise on the day after his nomination to the government in July 2020 and renewed it in December when coming out in French LGBTQ magazine Têtu.

“I wouldn’t want people to say I am fighting against ‘LGBT-free’ zones because I am gay,” said Beaune at the time, “It would be insulting to say I am leading that fight for myself.”

“Europe does not only fight on technical subjects,” said Beaune, “It is also the continent of liberal democracies where we ardently defend fundamental rights and individual freedoms.”

Clea Caulcutt and Lili Bayer contributed reporting.

Source : Politico EU More