False news reports about “LGBT-free zones” in Poland — areas where LGBT people are allegedly not allowed to enter — has raised its ugly head again, this time being used by a top EU official to condemn the country.
The official, Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, wrote in a social media post that “Putin was the first to weaponize homophobia and his sorcerer’s apprentices in Poland and Hungary followed suit.”
He then added that “the LGTBIQ+ free zones in Poland and the recent outrageous Hungarian law banning LGTBIQ+ content in schools or on kids’ TV which links being gay with pedophilia, are a new low and should remind everyone that Putin’s playbook is being used in the heart of the EU in the 21st century.”
The issue of alleged “LGBT-free zones” in Poland was created by LGBT activist Bart Staszewski, who has been sued by municipalities in Poland for spreading false information, including placing “LGBT-free zone” signs written in several languages beneath the names of Polish towns which adopted pro-family declarations. The international news media has often reported on the signs as if local authorities put them up in an effort to keep LGBT people out. Photos of the signs went viral.
Some of the municipalities sued Staszewski for defamation. The activist has responded by stating that his actions were an artistic project which was meant to point out the discrimination of LGBT persons to the public’s benefit.
This fake news story was later authenticated by Left party and Civic Platform politicians in Brussels. Although the subject was clarified and explained many times by Polish officials, the so-called “LGBT-free zones” are still continuously used to attack Poland.
LGBTIQ+ free zones in Poland and the recent outrageous Hungarian law banning #LGBTIQ+ content in schools and on kids’ TV are a new low and a reminder to all that Putin’s playbook is being used in the heart of the EU.
— Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) June 20, 2021
Although the Netherlands, which is Timmermans’s home country, has been quietly supporting Nord Stream 2 and the European Commission has been unable to efficiently oppose making deals with Moscow, Poland is being accused of supposed alliances with Russia.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk responded to the EU politician’s accusations, emphasizing that there were no “LGBT-free zones” in Poland.
There are NO LGBT FREE ZONES IN POLAND.
If the EC Commisioners use #Fakenews themselfes, no wonder their effectiveness on many issues, including eastern policy, does not fullfil expectations of EU citizens. https://t.co/Jp7LA2yz1s
— S Szynkowski vel Sęk (@SzSz_velSek) June 20, 2021
Timmermans’ claim about Hungary passing a law banning LGBTIQ+ content from being shown to children is accurate, but the law does not claim that LGBTIQ+ people are pedophiles. Instead, the law focuses on restricting content for children and young adults that focuses on gender and sexuality and also restricts any content that would encourage children to change their gender. The law was passed by an overwhelming majority in Hungary’s parliament.