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'Stop targeting sexual minorities': Stars sign letter supporting Poland's LGBT+ rights

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A man stands on a Rainbow Flag as he attends a demonstration of far-right activists against LGBT rights in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020.
A man stands on a Rainbow Flag as he attends a demonstration of far-right activists against LGBT rights in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
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Dozens of celebrities including Pedro Almodovar, Margaret Atwood and Isabelle Huppert have signed an open letter expressing outrage at the Polish government's "repressions" against the LGBT+ community.

The letter, published on the wyborcza.pl website, is addressed to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and demands the bloc takes "immediate steps" to protect "core European values".

The 75 signees also include writer Paul Auster, director Luca Guadagnino, and actor Stellan Skarsgard.

"We speak out in solidarity with activists and their allies, who are being detained, brutalised, and intimidated. We voice grave concern about the future of democracy in Poland, a country with an admirable history of resistance to totalitarianism and struggle for freedom," they wrote.

They mentioned the arrest on August 7 of 48 people "engaged in a peaceful protest in solidarity with an LGBT+ activist", the "persistent use of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric by Polish politicians and media" and to municipalities which declare themselves "zones free of LGBT ideology".

"Homophobic aggression in Poland is growing because it is condoned by the ruling party, which has chosen sexual minorities as a scapegoat with no regard for the safety and well-being of citizens," they added.

President Andrzej Duda, who was re-elected last month following a highly competitive campaign, told supporters at a rally that LGBT activism is an "ideology" more "destructive than communism".

A third of Poland has also described itself as "LBGT free", which was condemned by the European Commission.

The open letter calls on the government to "stop targeting sexual minorities, to stop supporting organisations that spread homophobia" and to hold accountable those "responsible for unlawful and violent arrests of August 7, 2020".

It also urged the EU "to take immediate steps to defend core European values — equality, non-discrimination, respect for minorities — which are being blatantly violated in Poland".

The EU announced last month that it has rejected grants under a twinning programme to six Polish cities that described themselves as such. The bloc's Equality Commissioner, Helena Dalli, stressed then that "EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by member states and public authorities".

The Polish government criticised the decision with Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro responding on Facebook: "We will not allow discrimination of Polish citizens and local governments by the European Union".

"The Union must respect the equality of all citizens, who have the right to form their opinions and beliefs freely," he went on.