Milan hits back at Poland and Hungary’s restrictions on LGBTQ+ rights – POLITICO

This article is part of by POLITICO Global Policy Lab: Living Cities, a collaborative journalism project exploring the future of cities. Chapter 1 of the project is presented by AirBnB.

Milan has joined the ranks of cities taking a stand against efforts by Poland and Hungary to restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people.

The city appointed himself an “LGBTQ+ freedom zone” – a label inspired by the so-called “LGBT ideology-free zones” created in some Polish cities since 2019.

“The freedom to exist and talk about local LGBTQ+ citizenship is substantially prohibited” in Poland and Hungary, said councilor and activist Michele Albiani. Milan – home to Italy’s largest LGBTQ+ community – adopted the designation in response, he said.

It puts Milan in the company of cities like Paris, Vienna and Lisbon which also pledged to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people and was adopted Monday, on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

The European Commissioner for Equality has published a reproaches Poland in November 2020, claiming that areas without LGBT ideology go against EU values ​​and legislation. In several cases, the European Commission has also cutting access to EU funds — a decision that prompted the Polish Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, to accuse the Commission of “blackmail”.

While some municipalities have since backtracked, several have kept their promises to exclude LGBTQ+ people.

In Hungary, meanwhile, the government passed a law last year prohibition communication considered to promote or display homosexuality or gender reassignment to persons under the age of 18.

Milan councilors Carmine Pacente, Michele Albiani and Angelo Turco co-sponsored bill to turn the city into an ‘LGBTQ+ freedom zone’ | Michele Albiani

Milan’s response is part of a coordinated effort, led by the European Socialist Group in the Committee of the Regions, to affirm that LGBTQ+ people have equal rights in Europe despite discriminatory policies in some EU member countries.

Albiani said that beyond the declaration’s symbolism, cities also have an important role to play in ensuring areas are inclusive by providing “services, public spaces and projects ‘that help make life’ simpler” for the LGBTQ+ community.

“Milan has been supporting the LGBTQ+ community for over a decade, but everyone is aware that there is still so much more to do,” he said. “Now the focus must be on taking concrete action for the rainbow community, like the gender registry for transgender people and building a major LGBTQ+ cultural center.”

Nikodem Bernaciak, a legal analyst at the ultra-conservative Ordo Iuris Institute, which formulated a “pro-family” charter adopted by many Polish municipalities that have created LGBT ideology-free zones, declined to comment.

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