The mayor of Kraśnick said his Polish town his become a laughingstock of the world after declaring itself to be an LGBT-free zone. The councilors of the small, deeply religious, and conservative town voted to symbolically rid their town of queer people and their allegedly insidious ideologies in 2019, but Mayor Wojciech Wilk told the New York Times the move has resulted in the loss of millions in much-needed financing for the town and made it a symbol for homophobia.
“We have become Europe’s laughingstock, and it’s the citizens not the local politicians who’ve suffered most,” Wilk said.
Kraśnick made headlines earlier this year when local leaders turned away France’s minister for European affairs Clément Beaune. Beaune had come out as gay last year and vowed to visit an LGBT-free town in a memorable speech, and was not pleased with being turned away on an official diplomatic visit.
“Polish authorities recently indicated to me that they weren’t capable of planning this visit, and I profoundly regret it,” Beaune said at the time. “It is a decision that I deplore.”
Wilk explained how the international community has banded together in opposition to the LGBT-free zones. Norway stopped up to $10 million in possible financing projects in the town due to the homophobic declaration. A town in France severed its partnership with the city, following a trend of sister cities cutting ties with Polish towns which have declared themselves to be LGBT-free.
Politics in Poland have taken a decidedly rightward lurch in recent years. Incumbent Polish president Andrzej Duda was reelected last July, after running on a “Family Card” of proposals that would outlaw marriage equality and prevent child adoption by LGBTQ+ families. The moves against the LGBTQ+ community were seen as a means to whip up support among his hard-core right wing base.
“It’s a foreign ideology,” Duda said of the queer community while campaigning last June. “There is no consent for this phenomenon to happen in our country in anyway.”
Not everyone supported the proposals at the time. Last year, courts struck down the homophobic declarations of at least two towns. Amanda Wojcicka, 24, a convenience store worker, said the declaration was embarrassing. Activist and filmmaker Bartosz Staszewiski began taking pictures realistic-looking “LGBT-free” signs next to the official welcoming signs at the city limits.
However, 73-year-old former construction worker Jan Chamara said he would rather subsist on a diet of potatoes rather than repeal the LGBT-free declaration for Kraśnick.
“I don’t want their money,” Chamara said. “We will survive.”
Contrary to Chamara’s sentiments, the mayor emphatically announced he wants the declaration repealed.
“My position is clear: I want this resolution repealed,” Wilk said, “because it’s harmful for the town and its inhabitants.”