Why has the European Parliament has symbolically declared itself an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone”? What does it bring to the table for the entire 27-member bloc?

On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution. Under this new resolution, the EU has symbolically declared the 27-member bloc as something called an “LGBTIQ Freedom zone” as a response to a controversial move by the member state Poland. Since 2019 Poland has created more than 100 “LGBTIQ ideology-free zones” around the country. The LGBTIQ rights have been witnessing a backslide in some countries of the European Union, especially Poland and Hungary.
LGBTIQ is an acronym of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex and queer in the exact order.
What is the status of current LGBTIQ rights in Poland and Hungary?
As many as 23 out of 27 countries in the European Union recognise same-sex unions. There are 16 countries that legally recognise same-sex marriage forming the majority part. On the other hand, we have minority countries including Poland that do not acknowledge such relationships socially or legally. The same ideology is proven by Andrzej Duda, president of Poland, who last year said that “LGBT ideology is more destructive to man than communism imposed on the country by the Soviet Union”.
Furthermore, some other countries in the EU (including Poland, again) have barred same-sex couples from making adoptions. Interestingly, such couples can adopt children and are not deterred by this rule if they apply to adopt as single parents. However, Poland has taken some steps to close the loophole. It shall do the same by introducing background checks on applicants under which people who are applicants who are in a same-sex relationship shall not be allowed to apply as a single parent. They shall be criminally liable if they are found to do so under the background check process.
Over 100 municipalities in Poland have adopted resolutions to declare themselves free from LGBTIQ “ideology” since the month of March in 2019 stating that the local governments are not supposed to encourage tolerance towards the LGBTIQ people. Under the ambit of this resolution, the governments have also withdrawn financial assistance from groups and organisations that work towards promoting non-discrimination and equality in the country.
The press release by the EU said that these ‘‘LGBTIQ-free zones’’ declared by the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) highlight end up becoming a part of a broader context of discrimination against the rainbow human race. The LGBTIQ free zones can lead to increased discrimination towards and attacks on the LGBTIQ community in Poland. This discrimination might take the forms of notably growing hate speech from elected officials (including the current President as mentioned in one instance above), public authorities, as well as the pro-government media and other authorities. The EU release also said that the union deplores the attacks and bans on Pride marches as well as the arrests of LGBTIQ rights activists across the member countries.
The case in Hungary is nearly the same as that in Poland with the country pushing forward a conservative Catholic social agenda. The biggest example of which is the adoption of a resolution banning the ‘‘dissemination and promotion of LGBTIQ propaganda’’ by the town of Nagykáta in the month of November last year. Nearly a month later, a constitutional amendment was adopted by the country’s parliament that further deteriorated the crisis. The amendment further restricted the rights of the LGBTIQ community.
What is the resolution adopted by the European Union?
Recently, the Parliament of the European Union has adopted a resolution that declared the entire bloc as an ‘‘LGBTIQ Freedom Zone’’. The resolution enjoyed an enormous majority with 492 votes in favour and 141 against the proposal. There were 46 abstentions.
According to the passed resolution, all LGBTIQ persons have the right to enjoy the freedom to live and show their sexual orientation publicly no matter where they are in the EU. They have a right to express their gender identity without any fear of discrimination, intolerance, or persecution as authorities across the EU shall work towards protecting and promoting the same. The equality and the fundamental rights of all the people (including the LGBTIQ) should be looked after by the governments at all levels.
What was the response of countries like Poland and Hungary to the resolution?
As expected, the declaration by the union was not very easy to take leading to the latest flare-up between the majority of EU countries on one side of the boxing ring and Poland and Hungary on the other side.
The 27-member bloc has constantly been chiding the discriminatory moves by the conservative nationalist governments of the two former Communist states. The deteriorating democratic standards in the two states have stooped to lower and lower as other countries around the world strive to prove themselves in the opposite direction. Another example of the said being an incident from December last year wherein the two central European nations intimidated the bloc after Brussels proposed to make the money transfers to the countries subject to the basic democratic conditions such as respect of rule of law and democratic norms. They threatened to veto the EU’s budget and recovery fund due to the same.

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