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MEPs vote to declare EU a 'freedom zone' for LGBT people

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By Euronews
MEPs vote to declare EU a 'freedom zone' for LGBT people
Copyright  DAMIEN MEYER/AFP or licensors

With anti-LGBT campaigns flaring up across Europe, MEPs have symbolically voted to declare the whole of the European Union a so-called freedom zone for LGBTQI people.

The ballot passed on Thursday, with 492 MEPs voting in favour and 141 against. There were 46 abstentions.

Terry Reintke, a German Green MEP who is a member of the LGBT community, said: "We know that our lives are still in danger, our rights restricted, our freedom brutally suffocated in far far too many places in the EU.

"But it is a step and we are many, we are everywhere, and we are strong."

The freedom zone move is in reaction to more than 100 municipalities in Poland declaring themselves zones free of LGBT people and ideology.

But MEPs aligned with the Polish government, Ryszard Antoni Legutko (ECR), continue to defend their right to limit the freedoms of LGBT people.

"Our regions are absolutely against these ideological officers who turn up in schools and tell them about absurd ideas about some kind of fluidity of genders. I mean this is against the constitution in Poland and it doesn't comply with the charter of fundamental rights," he said during a debate in the European Parliament.

This week, the homophobic murder of a gay man in Belgium prompted the prime minister to fly the rainbow flag outside his residence.

And while the pandemic has prevented pride events from taking place - LGBT rights groups like ILGA-Europe say the EU should still take firm action.

Evelyne Paradis is the organisation's executive director and says governments "can do what the European Commission has started to say they would do which is not sending EU money and EU funds if it's not going to be used in full compliance and accordance with EU values".

Six Polish cities had EU grants rejected over their anti-LGBT stance last year.