[dates updated] CALL FOR ACTION – The EU as an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone”

BRIEFING NOTE: Declaration of the EU as an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone”

Background information (Call for Action below)

  1. Since 2019, several municipalities, regions and counties in Poland have adopted declarations on being free of “LGBT-ideology” or Regional Charters of Family Values. These initiatives, the so-called ‘LGBTI-free zones’, led to increased scapegoating of LGBTI persons in Poland, namely during last year’s Presidential election campaign.[1]
  2. On 26 March 2019, the Świdnik County adopted the first declaration on being free of LGBTI ideology.[2] The adoption of this declaration was followed by several others which are documented in the Atlas of Hate website.[3] Regional Charters of Family Values, which do not expressly mention LGBTI ideology, but which hint at similar political motivation, have been adopted by several other local authorities.
  3. On 11 December 2019, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on public discrimination and hate speech against LGBTI people, including LGBTI free zones.[4] Among others, the resolution: 
    • condemned the incidents of hate speech and crime;[5]
    • condemned any kind of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics;[6]
    • called on the Commission and Council to to use all the tools and procedures at their disposal to ensure the full and proper application of Treaty principles and values such as infringement procedures, budgetary procedures, the rule of law mechanism and the Article 7 procedure, including those ongoing;[7]
  4. The FRA LGBTI Survey II, published in May 2020,[8] showed that the situation has turned increasingly dire for LGBTI persons in Poland. The results highlight an increase in intolerance and violence towards LGBTI persons and a complete disbelief by respondents at the government’s efforts to effectively combat prejudice and intolerance against them, recording the lowest percentage in the EU (only 4 % deem them effective).
  5. The European Parliament adopted on 17 September a report on the situation of the rule of law in Poland and the ongoing infringement procedures under Article 7 TEU[9]. The report addressed also the human rights of LGBTI persons, in particular, hate speech, the context of the 2020 presidential campaign, the so-called “LGBTI-free zones”, the cutting of funds to some regions that adopted such declarations, the “Polish Stonewall” mass arrests of activists and the calls from the Polish Episcopate for so-called “conversion therapy” practices. The LGBTI Intergroup’s support was crucial to ensure inclusion of different key issues for LGBTI activists and NGOs.[10]
  6. To mark the 2-year anniversary of the first Polish resolution against “LGBTI ideology”, or so-called “LGBTI-free zone” in Świdnik County, the European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup initiated a debate and vote in the European Parliament on a resolution, which declares the EU to be instead an “LGBTIQ freedom zone”
  7. This resolution is a signal to all LGBTIQ persons, organisations and activists that the European Parliament stands by their side and advocates for their rights. It is equally a signal to elected politicians, governments and decision-makers that discrimination against LGBTIQ persons in any way or form does not comply with European values.
  8. The debate will take place on Wednesday 10 March 2021, the vote on Thursday 11 March 2021. The debate will be streamed in this page: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/home.html The result of the vote will be available on this page: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/votes.html 

We expect that the resolution will be adopted with a vast majority.

Photo Opportunity in Brussels

Following the debate, the presidents of the LGBTI Intergroup will present a large rainbow banner with “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone” on the Esplanade outside the Parliament on Tuesday, 9 March 2021 at 1:30pm. Upon request, you can receive a copy of this picture for your media coverage.

Call for Action on Social Media

To accompany the declaration of the EU as a “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone”, the LGBTI Intergroup calls on LGBTIQ persons and organisations, news media, LGBTIQ influencers, LGBTIQ supporters and allies to contribute to a social media action.

We would like to show the support for LGBTIQ Freedom Zone by pictures of rainbow flags and signs from all over Europe.

How it works:

  • What: Upload a picture of a known monument, view, city/country sign alongside with a rainbow flag or this sign (download link). You can choose if you would like to be on this picture or not. (To give you an idea have a look at the iconic picture Tilda Swinton posted a couple of years ago in Moscow.)
  • When: Between Monday, 8 March 2021 and Wednesday, 10 March 2021 
  • Template message: “Our rights, our freedom. We are not an ideology. We are proud citizens of the European #LGBTIQFreedomZone.”
  • Platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
  • Hashtag: #LGBTIQFreedomZone
  • Accounts to tag (optional): 
    • Twitter: @LGBTIIntergroup, @vonderleyen, @helenadalli, @Europarl_EN (editable to other languages, for example, the Portuguese handle of the EP would be @Europarl_PT)
    • Facebook: @LGBTIIntergroup, @dallihelena, @europarl, @EuropeanCommission


EN: Miguel CHAMBEL (LGBTI Intergroup) miguel.chambel@europarl.europa.eu 

FR: Fanny DEVAUX (MEP Pierre Karleskind, France)fanny.devaux@europarl.europa.eu 

FR/DE: Lisa KERSCH (MEP Marc Angel, Luxembourg) lisa.kersch@europarl.europa.eu 

DE: Sebastian FIETKAU (MEP Terry Reintke, Germany) sebastian.fietkau@europarl.europa.eu 

[1] LGBTI Intergroup (17 June 2020), “Press release: The Polish President’s instrumentalization of LGBTI persons is a cheap attempt at political gain ahead of elections”, accessible at https://lgbti-ep.eu/2020/06/17/the-polish-presidents-instrumentalization-of-lgbti-persons-is-a-cheap-attempt-at-political-gain-ahead-of-elections/.

[2] Świdnik County declaration (26 March 2019), “Position No. 1/2019 of the District Council in Świdnik  of March 26, 2019, on the suppression of the “LGBT” ideology by the community local government”, accessible at https://spswidnik.bip.lubelskie.pl/upload/pliki//0stanowisko.pdf

[3] Altas of Hate, accessible at https://atlasnienawisci.pl.

[4] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/B-9-2019-0234_EN.html.

[5] Id. ¶8.

[6] Id., ¶12.

[7] Id., ¶15.

[8] FRA LGBTI Survey II (14 May 2020), “A Long Way to go for LGBTI Equality”, accessible at https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2020/eu-lgbti-survey-results.

[9] European Parliament (17 September 2020), “European Parliament resolution of 17 September 2020 on the proposal for a Council decision on the determination of a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the rule of law”, accessible at https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2020-0225_EN.html.

[10] LGBTI Intergroup (17 September 2020), Press release: Poland’s continued attack on human rights of LGBTI persons gathers condemnation from European Parliament, accessible at https://lgbti-ep.eu/2020/09/17/polands-continued-attack-on-human-rights-of-lgbti-persons-gathers-condemnation-from-european-parliament/.