Lhbti activists Róz and Jadwiga sit in Krosnos main square. The town is located in the Subcarpathian province, in the far southeastern part of Poland and is one of the most conservative in the country. Until two weeks ago, this place was a so-called lhbti ideology-free zone.
“We deal with discrimination on a daily basis,” says 18-year-old Róz, an alias. “I keep living in fear. I just have to go to the store to buy a sandwich and then Im thinking about getting scolded out on the street or something worse going on. That someone is using physical violence this time.”
Five of Polands sixteen provinces had been lhbti free zones for a few years now. The zones have no legal status. They are explanations that propagate the traditional family form of husband, wife and children. There is no room for spreading what those county boards see as gay propaganda .
Millions from Brussels
the beginning of September, the European Commission informed the five provinces that they would suspend EUR 125 million in grants due to the LHBTI free zones. Within three weeks, four out of five counties moved them in. It is unclear whether the European Commission will cross the bridge with the 125 million.
In response to questions from the CCeit, the Commission has announced that the withdrawal of the statements is a step in the right direction.
But for the lhbti activists in Krosno, nothing changes, say the activists themselves. “Its really not like they suddenly love lhbtiers here or respect us,” says 19-year-old Jadwiga. “Its just the directors here about European money. And thats the saddest thing, we dont really have anything to be happy about.”
As soon as they can, the young women want to leave Krosno, they say in this report for the CCeit Journaal:
Jacek Kotula is also unhappy with his partys decision to remove the zones. He is for government party Pis in the Provincial States of the Subcarpathian States. If it were up to him, the province would not have weighed in to the financial pressure from Brussels.
“Capitulation, thats what it is!” , he says angry. “Our party should have kept its back straight. We are now bending to the ideology of gender and lhbti. Were going to bind here for money to build a few miles of tarmac and sidewalks? Thats desertion!”
Rainbow flag aggression
The provincial director calls the fake news that the zones are discriminatory and the reason for the European Commission to suspend subsidies. “Drivers in Western Europe and especially in the Netherlands have been deluded. They claim Poland would be an intolerant country. But in reality, there has been no more tolerant country than Poland for centuries.”
Thats what Róz and Jadwiga see differently. Every step they take outside the door, they risk being scolded, they tell. “As soon as people see the rainbow, it only needs to be a button, it immediately generates aggression,” says Róz. “Ill be broken up for a faggot. The other day someone shouted, “What the hell are you doing!”. Thats not nice, but Im getting immune to it.”
Quarrel with the European Union
Apart from the conflict over the LHBTI free zones, Warsaw has also been fighting with the European Union over the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Poland last week. That stipulated that Polish law exceeds that of the European Union. The ruling is seen as a bomb under the European legal order. Brussels has to come up with a hard response soon. Poland is entitled to tens of billions of euros from the corona recovery fund. But its unclear if that money will still go to Warsaw.
In the LHBTI s case, Poland opted for European money and removed the contested zones. But, according to provincial director Jacek Kotula of the government party, the ruling of the Constitutional Court is much more principled for his party mates.
“This government will not bow when it comes to the constitution or the rule of law,” he says. “Our Justice Minister will leave the government even sooner than he capitalizes on Brussels directives that have been sucked out of the thumb.”