The EU has cut off funding for six towns in Poland that have declared themselves ‘LGBT-free zones’.
Following the announcement on Thursday, the European Commission said the EU stood for the equality of all its people.
‘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,’ she added.
The towns, which are yet to be named, have asked to join the EU’s twinning programme which links different towns together ‘to guarantee peaceful relations’ and ‘reinforce mutual understanding and friendship’ between European citizens.
Any town within the EU can apply and is eligible for up to EUR 25,000 in funding.
Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said the six applications were rejected after legal representatives of the towns failed to provide EU officials with enough assurance that they would meet the ‘objectives and general features’ of the project.
Jahnz told CNN he was ‘not at liberty’ to identify the towns, adding: ‘We do not disclose the applicants who were rejected to get EU funds, this is a really a principle of equality of treatment that is at the heart of our selection processes.’
In a statement on Twitter, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: ‘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.’
In March, the International Observatory of Human Rights said one-third of Polish towns had declared themselves ‘free from LGBTI ideology’ since 2019.
In July, one town in the Netherlands cut ties with its Polish counterpart after it declared itself a ‘LGBT-free zone’.
Nieuwegein, a city near Utrecht in central Netherlands, released a statement announcing the immediate end to its relationship with the Polish city of Pulawy and urged others to follow suit.
Polish attitudes towards homosexuality are slowly shifting however same-sex marriage remains illegal in the Catholic country.
During an general election this year, incumbent president and leader of the ultra-conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) Andrzej Duda was accused of using homophobic slurs and unfairly targeting the LGBT community during his campaigns.