Press Release: JEF Poland & JEF Europe stand in solidarity with the Polish LGBTQ+ community 

Brussels/Warsaw 14.09.2020. “Our Europe is a home for everyone –  there is no room for hatred or discrimination. As federalists, we say ‘enough is enough’: the Polish government needs to stop using such degrading rhetoric and violating fundamental EU values, whether its victims are the LGBTQ+ community, migrants and refugees, or the integrity of the judicial system and the freedom of the media. The EU institutions and other Member States need to start putting their money where their mouth is. A healthy rule of law is a precondition for democracy, whether at national or European level. The EU was born to protect European citizens from autocrats: frankly, its recent track record is disappointing”, remarks Ania Machnio, on behalf of JEF Poland.

JEF has been closely following the deteriorating situation of the rule of law in Poland, including the structural discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community in violation of the Polish constitution by public authorities. Poland’s governing party, Law and Justice (PiS) has reinforced their dehumanising rhetoric, attempted to silence activists with arrests during peaceful protests and allowed for violence to grow within the country. All these are the newest signs of the crumbling of the rule of law and the disregard for the fundamental values of the EU in Poland.

While campaigning for his second term in office, President Andrzej Duda continued using degrading rhetoric towards the LGBTQ+ community by claiming that “LGBT are not people, but ideology” and made other attempts at dehumanisation and incitement of hate and fear.  By normalizing hate speech, Duda’s election as president encouraged such instances of discrimination asthe use of trucks with homophobic banners. These actions by citizens were followed by indiscriminate arrests of peaceful LGBTQ+ activists by police officers, which creates a state-induced culture of fear and harassment towards citizens.

A few of the towns proclaiming themselves “free from LGBTQ+ ideology” had applied for the twinning programme of the European Union and saw their application rejected, on  the basis of not being in line with the programme’s objective of “equal access and non-discrimination”. This decision is a first step towards showing that the EU does not tolerate human rights violations, both within its borders or outside of them.

We join the European Parliament in calling for the EU to enhance and increase the monitoring of the use of the EU funds and specifically for a rule of law conditionality in order to avoid further violations in Polish towns, regions and at the national level.  We call on the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to back her words with actions when committing to propose new anti-discrimination legislation in her political guidelines for the Commission. Seeing the LGBTQ+ discrimination as part of the rule of law erosion in Poland, we also urge the Council to adopt an effective EU fund conditionality regime based on the anticipated proposal of the Commission and following the European Council’s conclusions from 21 July 2020.  

Believing in a united Europe that treats all its citizens equally, we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in Poland. “Time after time, European citizens are seeing the rise of nationalism and discriminatory actions.  We say to the LGBTQ+ community in Poland and Europe: as federalists we will always support you, our Europe is a home for everyone and everyone should be respected”, states Leonie Martin,  President of JEF Europe.


In 2019, a study by ILGA-Europe found that over 80 municipal or local governments had proclaimed themselves to be “free from LGBTQ+ ideology”, a phenomenon endorsed by the governing Law and Justice (PiS) Party. By 2020, the number of cities, municipalities and regions has risen to over 105. While these political resolutions are against the Polish constitution and cannot serve as a basis for any legal action against minorities, the process of their nullification by courts is slow and lacking the support of regional governors who are appointed by the PiS government. In December 2019, the European Parliament condemned the establishment of LGBTQ+-free zones in Poland, calling on he European Commission to ensure that EU funding is not spent for discriminatory purposes. 


About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 13.000  members active in more than 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.


Contact information

Leonie Martin

President of JEF Europe 


JEF Europe statement on the Polish presidential elections. July 13, 2020: 

JEF Europe on Democracy under Pressure 2020. March 16, 2020: