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MEPs to debate making the EU an LGBT 'freedom zone'

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Activists hold a rainbow banner in front of the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday ahead of the debate.
Activists hold a rainbow banner in front of the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday ahead of the debate.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Francisco Seco
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MEPs will today debate a motion that could see the entire European Union declared a "freedom zone" for LGBT people.

The resolution has been proposed largely in response to anti-LGBT sentiments in EU member states such as Poland and Hungary.

Since 2019, over 100 municipalities in Poland declared themselves "free of LGBT ideology", supported by local politicians associated with the ruling Conservative Law and Justice party.

Wednesday's resolution says the fundamental rights of LGBT people have also been "severely hindered" in Hungary, where the country has introduced a de facto ban on legal gender recognition for trans and intersex people.

Meanwhile, the EU notes that only two member states - Germany and Malta - have banned so-called "conversion therapy".

The motion has been proposed by a cross-party group in the European Parliament, the LGBTI Intergroup, which says it has the support to pass the text, which will be voted upon on Thursday.

Liesje Schreinemacher, the vice-chair of the group and a Dutch lawmaker with Renew Europe, said the resolution is timed to roughly mark the second anniversary of when the first Polish community in Swidnik County passed an anti-LGBT resolution.

"From Portugal to Bulgaria, from Cyprus to Finland, the Parliament will stand for the rights of LGBT persons and will not forget that backsliding on these rights is legitimising LGBT-phobia," Schreinemacher said in a statement.

"Without political commitment and strong will, we will not make it," she added, calling on local authorities across Europe to support the resolution's aims.

"This resolution is a political signal to the anti-LGBT actors in Europe that their acts of hate and discrimination are intolerable," added Swedish MEP Malin Björk, from the Left group.

"But this resolution is also a sign to activists and human rights defenders; 'we stand with you and we will fight these human rights deniers alongside you'".

Schreinemacher also referred to reports that a man murdered in Belgium was the victim of a homophobic attack.

"In our country, there is no place for hatred. Love wins," tweeted Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, alongside a photo of the rainbow flag of the LGBT community flying outside his office.

Last year, the European Union rejected grants under a twinning programme to six Polish cities because of their attitude to the LGBT community.

The towns say they are seeking to defend traditional Catholic values, but gay rights activists say the move is highly discriminatory.