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Friday, June 18, 2021

French minister urges EU legal move over Polish ‘LGBT-free’ zones

PARIS – French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune is calling on the European Commission to start a legal procedure against Poland over the existence of “LGBT-ideology free zones” in the country.

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In an interview with leading French LGBTQ magazine Têtu published Sunday evening, Beaune was asked whether he would call for the Commission to use infringement proceedings.

“Yes,” he replied, “we need to use every possible tool to sanction these behaviors that are against our values and our rules.”

Infringement proceedings allow the Commission to take action if it decides a member country is failing to comply with EU law. It can lead to a case before the Court of Justice of the European Union, and even to financial penalties if non-compliance persists.

Beaune’s remarks come days after he said Polish authorities had discouraged him from visiting an “LGBT-free” zone during an official visit to Poland. On Friday, Beaune said Polish officials had threatened to withhold meetings if he followed through on his plan to visit the town of Kraśnik, one of the zones.

“I could have physically done it,” he told Têtu. “But I want to be able to speak about these subjects with Polish authorities. I did it and it was a first.”

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Pressed on whether he had given in to Polish intimidation, he said, “I am not an NGO militant. I am a political leader and I have to keep a balance.”

Beaune, who came out as gay in December in an earlier interview with Têtu, has repeatedly expressed his intention to set foot in one of these zones since being named to his government post in July 2020. In Sunday’s interview, he repeated his commitment, saying he would make a visit “by the end of the year.”

The minister said Poland’s “LGBT-free” zones “are contrary to European treaties.” Since 2019, local officials throughout Poland have declared dozens of largely symbolic “LGBT-ideology free” areas through charters aimed at stigmatizing LGBTQ people. According to the government, these measures are misunderstood outside the country.

On Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling the EU an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone” in reaction to the local measures in Poland.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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