EU lawmakers seek to declare bloc an LGBT 'freedom zone'

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FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 file photo, people hold a protest rally in front of Poland's Education Ministry in Warsaw, Poland against the appointment of a new education minister Przemyslaw Czarnek. The European Parliament is due to debate a resolution that would symbolically declare the entire 27-member European Union to be a freedom zone for LGBT people. The resolution comes largely in reaction to developments over the past two years in Poland, where many local communities have adopted largely resolutions declaring themselves to be free of what Polish conservative authorities have controversially dubbed LGBT ideology. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

WARSAW – Lawmakers in the European Parliament overwhelmingly spoke out in favor of a resolution that would declare the entire 27-member European Union a “freedom zone” for LGBT people during a debate held on Wednesday.

The resolution comes largely in reaction to developments over the past two years in Poland, where many local communities have adopted largely symbolic resolutions declaring themselves free of what conservative authorities have been calling “LGBT ideology.”

These towns say they are seeking to protect traditional families based on unions of men and women, but LGBT rights activists say the designations are discriminatory and make gays and lesbians feel unwelcome. The areas have come to be colloquially known as “LGBT-free zones.”

The resolution is the work of the a cross-party group in the European Parliament, the LGBTI Intergroup, which says it has garnered enough support to approve the largely symbolic resolution. The vote is scheduled for Thursday.

Liesje Schreinemacher, the vice chair of the group, told other lawmakers that this month marks the second anniversary of the first Polish community passing an anti-LGBT resolution.

“Since then over 100 places in Poland followed — a disgrace on European soil,” Schreinemacher, a Dutch lawmaker, said, before listing other challenges to LGBT people across the bloc.

The European Union's equality Commissioner Helena Dalli welcomed the initiative, saying LGBT people have been coming under increasing attack from political and religious leaders and other public figures.

“This has led to increased scapegoating of (LGBT) persons, who are for instance framed as a threat to children," Dalli said. “The EU must be a freedom zone for all of us, without exception."