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Wed Sep 16, 2020, 10:07 AM

Far Rt. Poland's 'LGBT Free Zones' Have No Place In EU: Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission

'Ursula von der Leyen says Poland's 'LGBT-free zones' have no place in EU.' In her 1st ‘state of union’ speech, European commission president delivers criticism of Polish ruling party. By Jennifer Rankin. The Guardian, Sept. 16, 2020.

- Von der Leyen is the first female president in the 63-year history of the European Commission.

The head of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has said Poland’s “LGBT free zones” are “humanity-free zones” that have no place in the European Union in her strongest criticism yet of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party. In a wide-ranging 77-min. speech spanning from coronavirus to the climate emergency, Von der Leyen pledged to build “a union of equality” & criticised European member states that watered down EU foreign policy messages on human rights.

She made plain her disapproval of Poland’s rightwing nationalist government, which has often hit out at “LGBT ideology”, while a number of Polish towns declared themselves “LGBT-ideology free zones”. “Being yourself is not your ideology,” Von der Leyen told applauding MEPs in the European parliament in Brussels. “It’s your identity,” she said. “So I want to be crystal clear – LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones. And they have no place in our union.”

The EU is locked in a long-running dispute with Poland over the rule of law, since the ruling Law and Justice party embarked on policies that weaken independent courts. With no end in sight, that fight is set to intensify, as Von der Leyen signalled she would not back down on linking EU funds to financial probity, following questions over the use of European money in Hungary and the Czech Republic. She said protecting the EU budget “against any kind of fraud, corruption and conflict of interest” was “non-negotiable”.

The commission president lamented that EU foreign policy could be “delayed, watered down or held hostage for other motives”, as she called for an end to national vetoes. Brussels has long called for an end to national vetoes on foreign policy, but Von der Leyen – who has pledged to lead a “geopolitical commission” – made the point by criticising EU governments for blocking stronger positions. The EU, Von der Leyen said, needed to call out human rights abuses, whether in Hong Kong or over the fate of the Uighurs. “But what holds us back? Why are even simple statements on EU values delayed, watered down or held hostage for other motives?

When member states say Europe is too slow, I say to them be courageous and finally move to qualified majority voting – at least on human rights and sanctions implementation.”...

More, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/16/ursula-von-der-leyen-says-polands-lgbt-free-zones-have-no-place-in-eu

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