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The European Parliament has declared the entire EU as an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone” on Thursday. Voting results that followed the debate in a session of parliament in Brussels the day prior showed 492 ballots were in favor of the resolution for LGBT support. A total of 141 Members of the European Parliament (MPEs) on the other hand had opposed while 46 MEPs have abstained.

According to media reports, the resolution was passed as a response to the LGBT-free zones (Polish: Strefy wolne od LGBT) or LGBT ideology-free zones in Poland.  

Some municipalities and regions in Poland these past two years have adopted resolutions now known as “LGBT-free zones.” This means that they have declared their area free of what conservative authorities have been calling “LGBT ideology.” Such areas ban equality marches and other LGBT events and as of June 2020, there are already around 100 municipalities in Poland or at least a third of the country that had declared itself “LGBT-free zones.”

The purpose of these towns for becoming “LGBT-free zones,” says Arkansas Democrat Gazette, is to “protect traditional families based on unions of men and women.” The newspaper added, “but LGBT rights activists say the designations are discriminatory and make gays and lesbians feel unwelcome.”

In Poland, same-sex relationships are not legally recognized, same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt children together either. They can, nonetheless, adopt as single parents and they have managed to get around the ban so far through this method. The Polish government, however, announced a proposal that will close the loophole in their law “just hours before the European Parliament’s declaration in support of LGBT rights,” BBC News reports.

But what exactly does the EU resolution say? What does it mean to be an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone?”

It declared that, “LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the EU should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination or persecution.”

Moreover, it said, “authorities at all levels of governance across the EU should protect and promote equality and the fundamental rights of all, including LGBTIQ persons.”

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had already released a statement of support via Twitter ahead of the passage of the resolution. Her statement reads, “Being yourself is not an ideology. It’s your identity.” She added, “No one can ever take it away. The EU is your home. The EU is a #LGBTIQFreedomZone.”

In EU, only Malta and Germany have banned “conversion therapy,” a dangerous practice and harmful attempt of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. There is also an “unofficial ban on legal gender recognition for transgender and intersex people” in Hungary. Read the story in full here and here.

The European Union currently has 27 member countries namely: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. 

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