EU may block €126 million to Poland over LGBTQ-free zones
The European Union has threatened to block as much as €126 million of cohesion funds to local Polish governments over anti-LGBTQ zones introduced in five provinces.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, sent letters to the governors of the provinces last week warning that if the resolutions weren’t rescinded the money would be withheld, according to Polish media reports and confirmed by an official with knowledge of the situation.
The frozen funds are from the bloc’s React-EU programme, which was launched after the coronavirus pandemic to aid recovery efforts. The country’s full allocation is more than €1.5 billion.
The Commission didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the situation. A Polish government spokesperson had no immediate comment.
Poland also faces a delay in the approval of €23.9 billion in grants from the EU’s landmark virus stimulus, in part because of the government’s campaign to have the country’s top court declare that the constitution overrides some EU laws.
Towns and provinces across Poland have declared themselves “free of LGBTQ ideology” to prevent pride parades and other gay-friendly events from taking place.
As of mid-2020, almost a third of municipalities in the Catholic country of 38 million people had adopted the declaration - often after lobbying from ultra-conservative groups.
Several Polish courts have ruled that the measures are unconstitutional and discriminatory. Despite the declarations being legally meaningless, they’ve fuelled fear and discrimination.
The EU this year began legal action against Poland and targeting separate legislation in Hungary, saying it will use all instruments at its disposal to defend the rights of LGBTQ people.
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