LGBT free zones: Calling for Cobh and Fermoy to break twinning ties with Polish towns

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We are calling for Cobh and Fermoy to break its twinning ties with Kolbuszowa and Nowa Deba.

Local municipalities across a third of Poland  have adopted “pro-family” resolutions against “LGBT propaganda,” creating what rights groups describe as hostile spaces for anyone who is not heterosexual or committed to the so-called “natural family”.

The almost 100 municipalities that have adopted the resolutions include five voivodeships (the largest administrative unit in Poland) in the southeast of the country as well as dozens of counties and other smaller units. You can see the map here:

An example of a resolution from Ryki reads: “[This resolution aims to] defend children, youth, families and Polish schools from sexual depravity and indoctrination, which lead to many pathologies already existing in Western countries, such as accepting pornography, abortion, sexual criminality, the crisis of the family and many others.”

Watch this video for further explanation of LGBT-free zones in Poland:

The declarations are meant to intimidate LGBT-people who live in these areas. Local politicians emphasize that there is no acceptance for LGBT events or initiatives. Teachers are intimidated against openly supporting LGBT-pupils or providing space for anti-discrimination events. Local authorities oppose anti-discrimination workshops. 

The youngest residents are those who are suffering the most. The youngest generation of residents are most vulnerable to the blatant homophobia of LGBT Free Zones. You can easily imagine how empowered bullies feel knowing that politicians are supporting their hate. According to the research conducted by the Campaign Against Homophobia, Trans-Fusion and Lambda Warsaw, nearly 70 percent of LGBT teenagers have suicidal thoughts. While 5% of the general population struggle with depression, half of the LGBT youth do. 

In July 2020, the European Commissioner for Justice and Equality Helena Dalli announced that six Polish cities which adopted the "LGBT-free zones" would not be granted EU funds within the EU twinning project framework. This is a direct consequence of their discriminatory policies directed against members of the LGBT community. The decision faced criticism from the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro. However, the President of the European Commission von der Leyen defended the decision. Reminding us that "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."Yet, on 18 August, Ziobro announced that the town of Tuchow in southern Poland would now receive 250,000 zlotys (€57,460) from the ministry’s Justice Fund, to compensate for the EU funding reversal.

We are calling for Cobh and Fermoy to break its twinning ties with Kolbuszowa and Nowa Deba. The town council of Nieuwegein, south of Utrecht, voted to end its friendship with Puławy in eastern Poland, the French town of  Saint-Jean-de-Brave cut ties with Tuchow, and the list goes on. We ask to sign this petition to add Fermoy and Cobh to this list. In Ireland we are committing to the inclusion of the LGBTQI community and to combating human rights abuses based on gender and sexual orientation.