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Poland outlaws ‘LGBT propaganda’ amid ‘growing hate speech’

Governments in Poland are attempting to outlaw LGBT people, as “propaganda” has been banned in “LGBT-free zones” making up a third of the country.

More than 100 local government areas have announced they are “free from LGBT ideology”, denying assistance to organisations promoting equality, and working instead to promote the “natural family” and discourage tolerance of diversity.

Attacks on LGBT people in the country have been escalating in recent years.

A Polish conservative newspaper was last year ordered to stop distributing “LGBT-free zone” stickers showing a crossed-out rainbow flag, BBC News reported.

“It is extremely important that we do not give in to homophobia in the public zone,” said activist Bartosz Staszewski, who initiated the legal action against the newspaper, at the time.

The first Pride march in the city of Bialystok was marred by violence, with far-right protesters clashing with marchers and police.

Deputy mayor of Warsaw Paweł Rabiej likened the present anti-LGBT movement in Poland to the Nazi era.

“German fascists created Jew-free zones,” he said last year.

“As you can see this tradition finds worthy followers, this time in Poland.”

The European Parliament has called on the country to “firmly condemn” the persecution of LGBT people by its local governments.

It has described the laws as part of “a broader context of attacks against the LGBTI community in Poland, which include growing hate speech by public and elected officials and public media, as well as attacks and bans on Pride marches and actions such as Rainbow Friday”.

LGBT rights in Poland still lag behind much of Western Europe.

Same-sex marriage and civil unions are not recognised, and public support for marriage equality is low, at 30% in 2017.

LGBT people are generally unprotected by anti-discrimination or hate crime laws.

The ruling Law and Justice Party has rejected urging from the European Parliament to stop its increasing homophobic rhetoric.

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