At a news conference in Brussels, spokesman Adalbert Jahnz confirmed that the EU turned down six applications from Poland for an EU program that funds activities to build links between communities in different nations. He refused to name the towns, citing an EU rule against identifying rejected applicants.
EU Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli tweeted Tuesday to say that six town twinning applications from "Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected.”
“EU values and fundamental rights must be respected” by the 27 member countries, Dalli said. Communities can obtain up to 25,000 euros ($29,000) under the EU's Town Twinning program, which links two or more communities in different nations and supports their joint development programs. Some other applicants from Poland were granted funds from the program.
Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro called the rejection decision “unfounded and unlawful” and urged the government to take steps with the EU Commission to reverse it. He argued that under the EU treaties, the national identities of its 27 members and the views of all citizens should be respected by all European bodies.
Poland’s right-wing government has cast LGBT rights as a threat to the country’s traditional Roman Catholic values and national identity. It opposes same-sex marriages. Influenced by the positions of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, some local authorities have declared their communities “LGBT Free” zones or opposed to the LGBT rights movement. The declarations have no legal power or consequences but are seen in the EU as highly discriminatory.
“Discrimination of any kind can never be tolerated in the EU," the bloc's justice commissioner, Didier Reynders, wrote on Twitter. "The Union values must be upheld in all the EU funded programmes.” Some Polish cities have already lost twinning with partners in western Europe over their “LGBT Free” declarations.