Openly gay French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune was denied access to an “LGBT-free” zone by Polish authorities in the town of Kraśnik during an official visit to the country that began Monday.
Beaune’s visit included meetings with LGBT NGOs, as well as Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, an opposition leader.
“Polish authorities recently indicated to me that they weren’t capable of planning this visit, and I profoundly regret it. It is a decision that I deplore,” Beaune told French publication l’Obs. ” In my eyes, that is not how you one should behave with an EU member state,”
Beaune said he had considered three options: canceling his visit to Poland, postponing it, or following through on his promise to visit the area but without authorization from the government.
“If I decided to maintain my visit to Poland, it’s because another topic — just as important in my eyes — has emerged: that of women’s right to abortion,” he said. Poland has one of the EU’s most restrictive abortion laws, after a top court ruled that abortions in the event of fetal deformities are unconstitutional. The verdict sparked large public protests, and more demonstrations were planned for Monday evening.
Patryk Jaki, an MEP with the governing nationalist coalition, told Polish media that the idea there are LGBT-free zones in Poland is a “lie” fostered by gay rights campaigners. “In our country, there is no place where LGBT people can’t go,” he said, adding: “The only thing that exists are declarations by local governments talking about affirming families and traditional values.”
In December 2020, Beaune came out as gay in an interview with the French LGBT lifestyle magazine Têtu. Beaune said he wanted to show that being gay was “not an obstacle” to becoming a government minister, and condemned homophobia in other European countries. “I wouldn’t want people to say I am fighting against ‘LGBT-free’ zones because I am gay,” he said. “It would be insulting to say I am leading that fight for myself. … However, as European affairs minister, I have an additional responsibility. I must fight for tolerance.”
Beaune said he had not given up on his pledge to visit one of the Polish LGBT free “zones.”