EU blocks funding for cities declaring themselves LGBT-free zones

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Announcing the decision on Thursday, the European Commission said it said the union stands for equality for all.

“The values ​​and fundamental rights of the EU must be respected by Member States and national authorities,” European Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli wrote on Twitter.

“This is why six town-twinning requests involving the Polish authorities having adopted resolutions on ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ have been rejected,” she added.

The cities, which were not identified, had applied to join the European Union’s twinning program, which links cities with each other “to ensure peaceful relations” and “to strengthen mutual understanding and friendship” between European citizens.

Under the terms of the program – which provides funding of up to € 25,000 ($ 29,000) – the program should be accessible to all European citizens, without any form of discrimination.

Commission spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz said: “Six applications were rejected because the response given by the legal representative of the project did not provide the evaluation committee with sufficient assurance that the project would comply with these general objectives and characteristics. ”

Jahnz told CNN he was “not free” to identify rejected applications, adding: “We do not disclose applicants who have been rejected for EU funds, it is really a principle of equality. treatment which is at the heart of our selection process. ”

In a statement on Twitter, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Our treaties in Europe ensure that everyone in Europe is free to be who they are, to live where they love, to love whoever she wants and aim as high as she wants. . I will continue to push for a #UnionOfEquality. ”

In March, the International Human Rights Observatory said that a third of Polish cities had declared themselves “free from LGBTI ideology” since 2019.

6 in 10 LGBTI people are afraid to hold hands in public, EU-wide survey finds

While Polish attitudes towards homosexuality slowly progress, same-sex marriage is not legal and the country, overwhelmingly Catholic, remains one of the most conservative and restrictive in Europe for LGBTQ people. .

Earlier this month, a city in the Netherlands severed ties with its sister city in Poland after the latter declared itself an “LGBT-free zone”.

Nieuwegein, a town near Utrecht in the center of the Netherlands, issued a statement announcing the immediate end of its 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 about the treatment of members of the LGBT community in Pulawy.

CNN attempted to contact local authorities in Pulawy for their comment.

Jack Guy and Martin Goillandeau contributed to this report.

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