US presidential candidate Joe Biden has condemned the rise in LGBTQ+ free towns in Poland, saying they have ‘no place in the EU or in the world’. Earlier this month, head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen criticised the Polish government’s attitude to the LGBTQ+ community, saying LGBTQ+ free zones do not belong in the EU. Biden agreed, saying on Twitter ‘LGBTQ+ rights are human rights’.
Hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community has grown considerably since the re-election of anti-LGBTQ+ president Andrzej Duda. Duda vowed to crack down on what he has referred to as ‘LGBTQ+ ideology’, branding it ‘more destructive’ than communism. Ursula von der Leyen responded, saying ‘being yourself is not an ideology’, however many queer Polish citizens have already left the country.
Multiple LGBTQ+ free zones in Poland have already been denied EU funding for town twinning on the basis that they are not upholding EU values. However the number of these zones has now grown to 70 across Poland, with von der Leyen arguing the EU needs to be doing more to protect the LGBTQ+ community in the country.