The European Union has denied funding to six towns in Poland that declared themselves to be “LGBT-free zones.”

Following the announcement on Thursday (30 July), the European Commission said they were affirming that the union stands for equality.

“EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities,” European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, wrote on Twitter.

“This is why six town-twinning applications involving Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBTI free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected.”

The towns, which haven’t been named, asked to join the EU’s twinning project which links different towns together to “guarantee peaceful relations” and “reinforce mutual understanding and friendship” between European citizens.

Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said the towns were rejected because each of their legal representatives failed to provide the EU with enough assurance that they would meet the “objectives and general features” of the programme.

Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, said in a statement on Twitter: “Our treaties in Europe ensure that every person in Europe is free to be who they are, live where they like, love who they want and aim as high as they want. I will continue to push for a #UnionOfEquality.”

Last year, a third of Poland declared themselves an “LGBT-free zone” free from “LGBT ideology.”

Local authorities are refraining from actions that could be seen as tolerant of the LGBTQ+ community, and are working to prevent financial aid for non-governmental organisations helping to promote equal rights.

A conservative newspaper also printed “LGBT-free zone” stickers for readers to publicly display in their homes.

Most of these regions have been in the south-east of the country. The declarations were met with widespread backlash outside of Poland with condemnations from the European Parliament.

In response to the EU’s decision to deny funding, Janusz Kowalski, the Polish Minister for State Assets, said the whole of Poland should be an “LGBT-free zone,” noting that the country’s constitution only recognises a family as between a man and a woman.

“We must not allow a single euro to be taken from Poland, Polish local governments, any Polish institutions for complying with the law, for saying ‘no’ to LGBT ideology, for protecting the Polish family,” he told Rzeczpospolita.

“First and foremost, Poland should be a LGBT-free zone. We should adopt a law that prohibits financing from public funds, or at the state or local government level, of any activities of organizations that explicitly promote LGBT.”

Related: Poland airs first ever television commercial with a gay couple.