The European Union has added a new clause to its funding rules, meaning Poland could face further financial restrictions if it continues to attack the country’s LGBTQ+ community. The new regulations mean EU countries must show respect for the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, so which refuse to adhere to the principles of gender equality and anti-discrimination could see their projects rejected for EU funding.
An EU official told Euractiv: “[The new regulations] could be a potential hook to withhold money if we see that something is not going in the right direction…When you’re supporting EU-funded projects in member states, there is an obligation – both, by the EU, and also by the member states – to ensure that these projects are complying with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.” European commissioner for equality, Helena Dalli, added: “EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by member states and state authorities.”
Poland has shown increased hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community since the re-election of anti-queer president, Andrzej Duda, last year, whose discriminatory policies breach the codes laid out in European Charter of Fundamental Rights. There are now over 100 ‘LGBTQ+ free’ zones in Poland, which have all signed pledges agreeing to ‘oppose acts of tolerance’ towards the queer community. Although the EU has already blocked funding for town twinning in some zones, one LGBTQ+ free town – Kraśnik – recently voted to continue its homophobic policies despite the economic implications of this.
Head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has already condemned Poland’s LGBTQ+ free zones in an address at an EU conference last year, saying they ‘have no place’ in the Union. However, many believe the EU need to take greater action against anti-LGBTQ+ policies in Poland, with around 350,000 signing All Out petition which demands the Union prioritise the protection of queer Poles.