LGBTQ Visitors not welcome in Końskowola, Poland

LGBTQ free community in Poland

LGBTQ Visitors not welcome in Końskowola, Poland

Końskowola is a charming town in Poland and a heaven for those that hate LGBTQ. Konskowola is a village that if completely free of LGBTQ people. Końskowola is a village in southeastern Poland, located between Puławy and Lublin, near Kurów on the Kurówka River. It is the seat of a separate commune within Puławy County in Lublin Voivodeship, called Gmina Końskowola; population: 2,188 inhabitants

Surrounded by fields of roses and lavender in tranquil eastern Poland, some residents of the village of Konskowola feel the EU might be trying to blackmail them.  Like about 100 other municipalities across rural Poland, the local council has declared Konskowola to be free of “LGBT ideology,” reflecting a backlash against gay rights throughout the conservative, largely Catholic nation.

This has raised eyebrows in Brussels, with the European Commission signaling to regional authorities, including Konskowola, that it might curb EU aid to areas that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.  Some residents, such as Konskowola Council head Radoslaw Gabriel Barzenc, are angry over what they see as unjustified interference by Europe’s liberal west in the town’s beliefs.

Gay rights have become a hot-button issue in Poland since the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power five years ago, pledging to defend traditional family values.  In the run-up to last Sunday’s presidential run-off election, Polish President Andrzej Duda, allied with PiS, pledged to ensure gay couples would not be able to adopt children and to prevent education about gay rights in public schools.

He won a second five-year term with 51 percent of the votes against a liberal challenger, amid mounting polarization in Poland over the role religious values should play in public life.  PiS and Duda have long disagreed with Europe over Warsaw’s adherence to democratic norms, and the issue was on the agenda at an EU summit which started in Brussels on Friday.

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Some want to freeze payouts for EU countries said to be undermining democratic values, such as Poland, although Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a right-wing ally of Warsaw’s conservative government, has threatened a veto.  On the eve of the summit, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, who is gay, expressed outrage.

A Polish rights organization has also petitioned the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to investigate whether EU funds disbursed in Poland are being misused by “LGBT-free” communities.   In Konskowola, in Poland’s conservative heartland, about 70 percent of residents voted for Duda, a devout Catholic.

Konskowola authorities say their aim is not to discriminate against any individuals.  In a declaration last year, the council said it opposed any public activity aimed at “promoting the ideology of the LGBT movement,” and declared it would protect its school and its families from anything that would contradict Christian values.

However, dissent in Konskowola, which has a population of just over 2,000, is brewing.

Konskowola Mayor Stanislaw Golebiowski, who is not a member of the local council, says it should have never taken up the issue and should reconsider. He feels too much is at stake. He wants EU cash to modernize irrigation systems — made more urgent by falling groundwater levels — for the town’s prized rose fields and other flowers it grows.

Like thousands of towns and villages across Poland, which joined the EU in 2004 and has since received about 36 billion euros (US$41 billion) in aid, Konskowola has spent the cash on projects to improve living standards after the ravages of World War II and four decades of communism.

Honorata Sadurska, 26, a bisexual veterinarian from Konskowola, believes homophobia is on the rise.

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