As homophobic tensions peak in Poland, diplomats of 50 countries have signed an open letter urging the Polish government to respect and protect its LGBT+ citizens.
In an incredible display of global unity, the letter was signed by envoys from India, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Ireland, Finland, Japan, Malta, Spain, New Zealand, Venezuela, Australia, Israel, Sweden, the UK and the USA, among many other countries.
Their call for tolerance reminds the Polish government of its responsibility to protect all citizens from violence and discrimination, and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities.
“Human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBT+ persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment,” the ambassadors write.
“Respect for these fundamental rights… obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities.”
While they do not expressly mention Poland’s ‘LGBT-free’ zones, they allude to this by citing a greater need to work towards “non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual acceptance” in sectors including education, health, social affairs, citizenship, public service and public documents.
“This is something that everyone should support,” the letter ends pointedly.
The ambassadors’ signatures are joined by representatives of several international organisations, including the United Nations and the EU itself.
It comes days after the EU was handed a petition signed by more than 340,000 people demanding decisive action against the rising tide of homophobic hate in Poland.
The European Parliament has stridently condemned Poland’s ‘LGBT-free’ zones on several occasions, and funding has been withheld from some municipalities in retaliation, but it appears to have had little effect on the country’s anti-LGBT+ sentiment.
Shortly after the ambassadors’ open letter was published, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Pawel Jablonski, hit back with a tweet that denied ‘LGBT-free’ zones even exist.
He claimed that the Polish government fully agrees with the letter’s message, and that “every human being enjoys an equal level of protection under Polish law”, but added a “reminder” that the Polish constitution defines marriage as a union of a woman and a man.
“We also positively assess the fact that the open letter does not repeat #fakenews about alleged ‘LGBT-free zones’ – that do not exist in Poland,” he continued.
“We believe that public debate should always be based on facts instead of false narratives invented by media or activists.”