The year 2021 has shown that LGBTIQ rights must be better protected, seeing a community at risk of discrimination and harassment on a daily basis. In Eastern Europe, they have been brutally attacked by local nationalist regimes. But also, in many Western European countries we have seen a setback provoked by right-wing populists.

Under these circumstances, the European Parliament has declared the EU a ‘LGBTIQ Freedom Zone’ as a necessary response to the dozens of Polish regions, countries, and municipalities that have self-declared as free from LGBTIQ ‘ideology’. Among the adopted resolutions, local governments are asked to refrain from encouraging any tolerance towards the LGBTIQ people and withdraw financial assistance from organisations promoting non-discrimination and equality. These actions signify a major attack on the basic freedom to express yourself and love whom you want.

Unfortunately, such anti-LGBTIQ behaviours are not unique to Poland and part of a much wider issue which spreads across several EU states: Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia to name a few. We have witnessed a series of increasing hostility and discrimination towards the LGBTIQ community, such as homophobic hate speech by elected officials, public authorities, and pro-government media. 

Immediate action is required to tackle the anti-LGBTIQ violence and rhetoric that is infecting Europe. We must bring these Member States to justice in the courts, repeal their voting rights and block EU funding. The Commission has already started infringement procedures against the Hungarian anti-LGBTIQ law and the local homophobic declarations in Poland. Additionally, the EU LGBTI Equality Strategy 2020-2025 has been approved since November 2020. Beyond legal procedures, education also needs to be a priority as a way to build long-standing solidarity and acceptance.

Read more about this topic in the latest publication by ELF Board member from Projekt:Polska Dr. Milosz Hodun

Free Voices: LGBT + Rights in Eastern Europe

You can also register for our upcoming LGBTI Freedom Zones in Practice: LGBTI rights and the EUevent on 28 February where we will continue the discussion, focusing on three urgent issues: activism in times of change, diplomacy in Europe and the issue of hate speech in liberal societies.

If you would like to read ELF’s works on this topic, see the following publications for more.

HR21: Religions and LGBTI rights: God is not a trump card
Religions and LGBTI Rights: A Liberal Perspective:
LiberTea Episode 1: The Freedom of Love
whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London