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‘LGBT-free’ Polish town suffers as ‘laughingstock’ amid sanctions

A Polish town that last year declared itself an “LGBT-free zone” is suffering as other European Union members have begun sanctions against it.

Krasnik in north-eastern Poland is among more than 100 local government areas that have made official statements against the LGBTIQ community and announced they are “free of LGBT ideology”.

The bans on “propaganda”, denying assistance to organisations that assist LGBTIQ people, and other attacks on the community have been the latest in escalating threats to LGBTIQ rights in Poland over recent years.

Now, Krasnik is seeing consequences of its openly homophobic and transphobic policies, as other countries have begun denying partnerships and funding to the town.

Last year, a French town severed ties with Krasnik, The New York Times has reported. 

After promising almost $10 million for development projects, Norway has said it will not provide funding to any of the “LGBT-free” towns.

One Krasnik resident who described himself as the town’s “only open gay” said that a local pharmacy refused to provide him with his heart medication after the anti-LGBT laws were passed.

Mayor Wojciech Wilk said that the laws were never intended to be make the town look homophobic.

“We have become Europe’s laughingstock, and it’s the citizens, not the local politicians, who’ve suffered most,” said Wilk.

The town council has repeatedly voted not to repeal the laws, despite the damage to Krasnik’s reputation and standing.

Dozens of international Ambassadors last year wrote to the Polish government in an open letter calling on the country to stop its campaign of attacks on LGBTIQ rights.

The European Parliament has also called on Poland to condemn the persecution of LGBTIQ people by local governments.

It called the laws part of “a broader context of attacks against the [LGBTIQ] 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”.

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