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EU debating declaration of LGBT 'freedom zone'

EU debating declaration of LGBT 'freedom zone'
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The European Parliament on Wednesday is set to debate a resolution that would declare the European Union’s 27 member countries a “freedom zone” for LGBT people.

The Associated Press reports that the motion largely comes as a response to communities in Poland, an EU member, adopting symbolic resolutions declaring themselves free from what conservative politicians refer to as “LGBT ideology.” The towns say they are defending their Catholic values, but LGBT activists counter that these resolutions are discriminatory and designed to make the gay community feel unwelcome.

The resolution was made by the cross-party EU group the LGBTI Intergroup, which said it has enough support to approve the resolution. The measure will also reportedly address issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people in the EU.

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Liesje Schreinemacher, a Dutch lawmaker and vice chair of LGBTI Intergroup, told the AP that the resolution was roughly timed to mark the second anniversary of the first Polish community passing an anti-LGBT resolution.

“We wanted to send a strong signal in Poland that we consider all of Europe to be an LGBTI freedom zone,” Schreinemacher said. “But every European country has work to do.”

The AP reports that Poland's local anti-LGBT resolutions have damaged its international image as well as the finances of local communities, with the EU and non-member country Norway blocking funds due to what they see as discriminatory policies.

In September of last year, ambassadors from 50 countries including the U.S. signed an open letter questioning the Polish government's commitment to LGBT rights due to concerns over crackdowns by President Andrzej Duda’s administration.

“We pay tribute to the hard work of LGBTI and other communities in Poland and around the world, as well as the work of all those who seek to ensure human rights for LGBTI and other persons belonging to communities facing similar challenges, and to end discrimination in particular on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” the letter read.

At the time, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki denied that LGBT people in Poland were being restricted or threatened, saying tolerance was part of "Polish DNA."

According to a ranking from ILGA-Europe, an LGBT advocacy group, Poland currently ranks 42nd out of 49 European countries in terms of laws that respect the human rights of LGBT people.