Joe Biden left no doubt where he stands on Poland’s recent homophobic descent when he tweeted support for the rights of oppressed LGBTQ+ communities and against the practice of LGBT-free zones now springing up across the increasingly conservative central European state.
“Let me be clear: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights – and 'LGBT-free zones' have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world,” the former vice president tweeted Sunday.
The strong stand came in response to a speech given by a top European Union official denouncing the disturbing trend of some municipalities in Poland declaring themselves to be “LGBT-free.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen used her first State of the Union address to declare that “LGBT-free zones” are “humanity-free zones” last week.
“I will not rest when it comes to building a union of equality, a union where you can be who you are and love who you want – without fear of recrimination or discrimination,” von der Leyen said in the address.
The LGBTQ+ community in Poland has been living under a darkening cloud of fear and oppression in recent months. Polish President Andrzej Duda was sworn into office for a second term in August. His re-election campaign featured a “Family Card” of proposals that promised to outlaw marriage equality and prevent child adoption by LGBTQ+ families. Duda, an independent, and some prominent members of the ruling PiS party have declared LGBTQ+ rights to be a foreign ideology, and have enacted laws that prohibit marriage equality.
In July, a court in Poland annulled a town’s LGBT-free zone declaration, invalidating the resolution of the Klwów Commune Council saying it was discriminatory and against the law. A similar decision had been announced for the city of Istebna the day before.
EU President van der Leyen went on to declare the fight against racism and hate is “fragile” and “hard won but very easily lost” and proposed “to extend the list of EU crimes to all forms of hate crime and hate speech – whether because of race, religion, gender or sexuality.”
“Because being yourself is not an ideology. It’s your identity. And no one can ever take it away.”