Dutch town cuts ties with Polish twin in ‘LGBT-free zone’

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Nieuwegein, a town near Utrecht in central Holland, released a statement on Wednesday announcing the immediate end of friendly relations with the Polish town of Pulawy.

Nieuwegein City Council called on the City Executive Council to sever ties on July 13 after learning of recent reports on the treatment of members of the LGBT community in Pulawy.

“In Nieuwegein, everyone is allowed to be what they are, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, religion or ethnic origin,” said Alderman Marieke Schouten.

Nieuwegein’s board was informed of Pulawy’s statement in January, the statement said, and sent a letter to his counterpart in the spring to express concern. However, local authorities in Pulawy did not respond, the statement added.”For the municipal council and the college, that is enough,” we read in the press release.

“A friendship between cities is precisely what should give rise to a dialogue on these issues. It’s a shame Pulawy doesn’t want to have a conversation, ”said Schouten.

“I am pleased that the municipal council has drawn a clear line and is therefore clearly in favor of inclusion. ”

CNN attempted to contact local Pulawy authorities for comments.

While Polish attitudes towards homosexuality are slowly increasing, gay marriage is not legal and the predominantly Catholic country remains one of the most conservative and restrictive in Europe for LGBTQ people.

In July 2019, right-wing news magazine Gazeta Polska announced its intention to distribute stickers to its readers proclaiming a “LGBT-free zone”.

The stickers featured an image of a black cross on a pride flag alongside the inflammatory slogan.

These areas have since been declared in a number of cities in Poland, according to the International Human Rights Observatory.

“Since last year, a third of Polish cities – supposedly an area larger than Hungary – have declared themselves” free of LGBTI ideology “, with an increase in the number of LGBTI people wishing to leave for countries in a relatively situation safer, “the organization wrote in March.

And the country’s outgoing president, Andrzej Duda, won another term on July 13 after speaking out against LGBTQ rights during the election campaign.

Duda, supported by the ruling Nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS), at one point described LGBTQ rights as an “ideology” worse than communism in the Soviet era.

During the campaign, Duda sought to mobilize his more conservative, predominantly rural base, appealing to traditional Catholic values ​​and promising to maintain popular social welfare policies, such as a child allowance and a more retirement age. low.

CNN’s Rob Picheta, Frederik Pleitgen, Antonia Mortensen and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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