The European Union has stripped funding from six Polish cities after they declared themselves to be “free of LGBTI ideology.”
“Our treaties ensure that every person in Europe is free to be who they are, live where they like, love who they want and aim as high as they want. I will continue to push for a union of equality,” announced European Union President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, after rejecting grants for the cities.
The EU Observer reports that cities in the European Union are eligible for up to €25,000 worth of grants from the supranational body’s budget. However, these grants are only offered if cities meet the prerequisite standard for “equal access and non-discrimination.” The EU alleged that applications from the six Polish cities did not meet this standard.
The Observer explained the grant scheme:
According to the guidelines of the programme, project promoters should pay due attention to the necessity of promoting equal opportunities – ensuring accessibility to all European citizens without any form of discrimination based on gender, ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
It was not immediately clear which Polish towns and cities were rejected. There are about 80 municipalities, primarily in south-eastern Poland, self-declared to be “free from LGTBI ideology”.
The decision was panned by Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, the leader of the nationalist United Poland party – a key part of the conservative-populist Polish governmental coalition. He accused the EU of “discrimination” against Poles.
“We will not allow discrimination of Polish citizens and local governments by the European Union,” Ziobro stated. “The Union must respect the equality of all its citizens, who have the right to form their opinions and beliefs freely.”
Previously, the European Union’s Directors-General for Urban Policy and Employment, Marc Lemaître and Joost Korte, threatened to cut off coronavirus pandemic recovery funding to Polish municipalities that rejected “LGBTI ideology”.
“While at the same time they are using EU funds … these actions result in citizens’ fear of being discriminated by these authorities, or being beaten by other citizens, or losing jobs,” the two bureaucrats alleged.
Since the election of a right-wing government in 2015, Poland has rejected Western liberalism, instead embracing popular socially conservative policies.