French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune was denied access to one of Poland’s “LGBT-free” zones.
During an official visit to the country on Monday (8 March), Beaune was told by Polish authorities that they “weren’t capable of planning this visit.”
Speaking with French publication l’Obs, the politician said: “I profoundly regret it. It is a decision that I deplore.”
Beaune’s planned visit to the town of Kraśnik would “have been not well received given the difficulties of the health situation,” according to a spokesperson for the French minister.
Last year, Beaune pledged to fight Poland’s barbaric “LGBT-free” zones following an interview with French gay magazine Têtu, where he publicly came out as gay.
After being questioned on LGBTQ+ rights in Europe, Beaune said he has “no problem” talking about his sexuality, and that he wants to show others in the LGBTQ+ community that being gay is “not an obstacle” to becoming a minister.
“I wouldn’t want people to say I am fighting against “LGBT-free” zones because I am gay. It would be insulting to say I am leading that fight for myself,” he admitted.
As the European Affairs Minister, Beaune said it’s his duty to “fight for tolerance”.
In recent years, the Polish government have targeted sexual minorities and supported organisations that spread homophobia.
The “LGBT-free” zones came to fruition after the country’s ruling Law and Justice Party inspired several towns in Poland to be free from “LGBT ideology” – putting vulnerable LGBTQ+ citizens at risk of discrimination, prejudice and violence.
Fifty countries from around the world signed an open letter calling for Poland to “protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities.”
“To this end, and in particular to shield communities in need of protection from verbal and physical abuse and hate speech, we need to jointly work on an environment of non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual acceptance,” it reads.
“This includes in particular sectors such as education, health, social affairs, citizenship, public service and public documents.
“We pay tribute to the hard work of LGBTI and other communities in Poland and around the world, as well as the work of all those who seek to ensure human rights for LGBTI and other persons belonging to communities facing similar challenges, and to end discrimination in particular on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The letter ends by stating that “human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBTI persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment,” and that this is “something that everyone should support.”
President Joe Biden also quote-tweeted an article from ABC News, in which Ursula von der Leyen – the new head of the European commission – criticised Poland’s ruling party for their anti-LGBTQ+ approach to policy and human rights.
“Let me be clear: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights — and “LGBT-free zones” have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world,” he wrote.