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UK campaigners call for action against 'LGBT Free Zones' in Poland
18 September 2020, 12:01
There are calls for the UK to be tougher in its stance against areas of Poland that have adopted so-called 'LGBT Free Zone' policies.
Eighty areas of the country have stopped promoting gay rights in their communities, which LGBT campaigners say make people living there feel unsafe.
Towns here twinned with cities in the eastern European country say it's up to the international community to make a difference.
At least one local authority in the UK has discussed concerns with it being twinned with a city there that lies within these areas.
One Pole who now lives in the UK has told LBC it reminds her of the Nazi ghettos set up to segregate Jewish people.
Aleksandra Malecka, from Legnica, now lives in Nottingham and says it would stop her thinking of moving home. She says abuse towards LGBT people has been going on for years. "I was bit and kicked by two tall guys, who were about 2 metres tall because I was wearing a rainbow badge.
"They knocked out two of my teeth.
"We went to the police, but they didn't find them. There was no CCTV to help with the inquiries."
And she's told us although there was concern from her family, her father laid some blame on her, telling her she shouldn't have worn the badge in public.
"I'll never forget that."
'LGBT Free Zones' are something Polish President Andrzej Duda says is about preserving traditional family values. He told an election rally this year that gay rights, including marriage and adoption is destructive to their nation.
He was re-elected within his Agreement pact with the Law and Justice party this summer.
A town being LGBT free isn't enforceable, as the Polish constitution says "LGBT persons have the right to full protection against hatred, violence and discrimination," but campaigners say just the statement stigmatizes and marginalises gay Poles and moves the population towards a nationalist culture and attitude change.
This week - the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed the union will do more to stamp out these zones saying they are "humanity free".
Local councils in the UK are starting to discuss thier links with Polish towns within these "LGBT Free Zones".
Many of the links have been for decades, as the Town Twinning project was set up after two world wars to promote friendship and collaboration.
Labour Cllr Jenni Tillotson, has called on the Tory led Charnwood Borough to question whether Loughborough should continue to work with its twin, Zamosc, in the south east.
She says: "Evil happens when good people do nothing.
"This is evil. It's against people's human rights. We have to be seen to be standing up against wrongs of this type."
Zamosc Town Council says it hasn't adopted the policy, but documents show it's regional government is.
After a council meeting, Cllr Tillotson was told continued dialogue could be "the best way to encourage change."
Those words of engagement with authorities have also come from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. A spokesperson said: "The UK is opposed to all forms of discrimination and committed to protecting the rights and freedoms of LGBT people around the world. We regularly engage with the Polish government and civil society organisations to tackle discrimination and promote inclusion."
But LGBT campaigners say they are worried that the words do not mean action will be taken, saying more and more little responses to the policies could help stop conditions worsening.