The council of Malopolska, a southern region in Poland that is home to over 3.4 million citizens, has voted to remain an LGBTQ+ free zone despite threats from the EU to cut billions worth of funding. After initially pledging to oppose ‘all acts of tolerance’ towards the LGBTQ+ community in 2019, councillors voted last Thursday to keep these regulations in place according to the Independent.
After the vote, the European Commission sent a letter to the council, requesting that the region’s anti-LGBTQ+ policies be revoked by September to secure €2.5bn in EU funding. Malopolska’s neighbouring region, Podkarpackie, has already lost €1.7m in European Heritage funding for declaring itself an LGBTQ+ free zone. Six towns have also been denied EU funding for town twinning, as their anti-LGBTQ+ policies breach the EU value of equality for all.
In response to international concern over the rising number of LGBTQ+ free zones in Poland, the European Union added a new clause to its funding rules earlier this year, meaning the country 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.