A city in the Netherlands is officially ending its sister city relationship with a Polish town that had recently declared itself an LGBT-free zone. The town council in Nieuwegein decided it could no longer partner with Puławy and announced it was severing its friendship relations with the homophobic town.
“Setting the gay-free zones is a serious business and our council has issued a very clear statement that this is not acceptable,” town council member Marieke Schouten is quoted in The Guardian. “We are a rainbow city. And we are both part of Europe, in which we believe that whoever you are, regardless of your orientation, you can be there in public space. It does not include a gay-free zone.”
The LGBTQ+ community in the former Soviet satellite state of Poland is facing rising hate and promises of increased discrimination. On Sunday, incumbent Polish president Andrzej Duda was reelected to a second term in office after a tight campaign filled with inflammatory and hateful rhetoric. His “Family Card” of proposals promises to outlaw marriage equality and prevent child adoption by LGBTQ+ families. Duda is a registered Independent, but allies with the right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS).
Nieuwegein is a suburb of the provincial capital of Utretcht. The town of over 63,000 was officially established in 1971, but the land has been settled since the medieval period.
Mark Snoeren, leader of the People’ Party for Freedom and Democracy, is quoted in RTL Netherlands saying he hopes members of the LGBTQ+ community in Poland “feel supported” by the town’s decision.
For its part, the city of Puławy in southeastern Poland seems little concerned about the international equivalent of being unfriended. In fact, town official care little what anyone thinks of their LGBT-free declaration.
“Poland is Poland, with its own identity, its own history and its own ideas,” Bożena Krygier, president of the Puławy town council, told RTL Nederland. This is why we believe that partner municipalities should not interfere with our resolutions.”
It’s because of sentiments like Krygier’s that Snoeren finds little common ground between the two cities.
"Exclusion of LGBTI people cannot be a basis for friendship," he said.