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French community suspends Polish ties over anti-LGBT declaration

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Members of the LGBT rallied to show solidarity after a Pride march was attacked city of Bialystok in 2019.
Members of the LGBT rallied to show solidarity after a Pride march was attacked city of Bialystok in 2019.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski   -   Czarek Sokolowski
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A community in France has unanimously voted to suspend ties with a Polish town over its attitude to gay people.

Councillors in Saint-Jean-de-Braye near Orleans have confirmed that they would be ending "official relations" with the town of Tuchów, in south-east Poland.

In May 2019, Tuchów was one of a number of towns or cities across Poland which declared itself an area “free of LGBT ideology”.

But the municipal council of Saint-Jean-de-Braye voted to suspend their official ties after 25-years, after being made aware of the decision.

"France is committed to combating human rights violations based on sexual orientation," the council said in a statement.

"We reaffirm that human rights must apply without discrimination to every human being, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"We call for the individual freedoms of all to apply without hindrance."

'We cannot accept that our ties ... should be tainted'

The French municipal council also called for an "explanation" of the reasons that led Tuchów to adopt the resolution and for the decision to be revoked.

"We cannot accept that the ties that unite our two cities through an oath of twinning should be tainted."

The mayor of Tuchów, Magdalena Marszalek, has deplored the decision by their sister town, saying that many in her community do not support the declaration by local councillors.

Marszalek also suggested the decision was part of an election campaign, local elections due in France in March.

She expressed regret that severing ties will cut friendly relations among residents, as Tuchow will no longer be able to sponsor visits by people from Saint-Jean-de-Braye.

But the decision has been widely praised by members of the LGBT community in both France and Poland.

But Polish MEP Lukasz Kohut, from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, suggested that the decision highlights a lack of awareness across Europe for LGBT rights in Poland.

"The mayor of the French commune knew that the Polish government was propagating homophobia, but he did not expect the city to pass this resolution."

"What else must happen for us to wake up?"

Last year, 80 municipalities in Poland declared themselves free of LGBTI ideology, pledging to refrain from encouraging tolerance of gay people.

It followed the election campaign of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party ahead of parliamentary elections in October.

The conservative party says they are trying to protect children and traditional families from being corrupted by a growing gay rights movement.

In December 2019, the European Parliament voted by a majority a text urging the Polish authorities to revoke the declarations.

LGBT activists in Poland have told Euronews that they "do not feel safe" in their own country.

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