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Dozens of Polish communities say they are 'LGBT-free'

People wave rainbow flags during the Baltic gay pride parade on June 8, 2019 on the streets of the Polish capital Warsaw
People wave rainbow flags during the Baltic gay pride parade on June 8, 2019 on the streets of the Polish capital Warsaw AFP/File
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Warsaw (AFP)

A Polish campaign group on Wednesday said that around 30 communities including villages and regional assemblies in the devout Catholic country had in recent months declared themselves to be "free of LGBT ideology".

Homosexuality is a frequent topic of public debate in the EU member, whose conservative ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski condemned gay rights as a "threat" in April.

"There are currently around 30 local authorities that have adopted such (anti-LGBT) statements," said Magdalena Swider, an official with the Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH) non-profit group.

"It's a direct response to an anti-discrimination declaration adopted by Warsaw city hall in February to act in favour of the LGBT community," she told AFP.

Criticising the declaration, Kaczynski's right-wing governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has put LGBT rights at the centre of political debate ahead of this autumn's general election.

Acting in response to what it termed an "ideological war", the eastern town of Swidnik announced in March that it was "free of LGBT ideology".

The southern city of Lublin recently gave awards to local officials who have opposed "LGBT ideology, which goes against the family, the nation and the Polish state," according to local media.

These kinds of moves could "go against constitutional values that oppose discrimination," said Jaroslaw Jagura, a lawyer with the Warsaw-based Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

Last week, Polish bishops denounced Swedish furniture giant Ikea for what they called "LGBT indoctrination" after an employee was sacked for refusing to take down a homophobic comment he posted on the firm's internal website.

In June, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of a printer who had refused to fulfil an order from an LGBT organisation.

The court decision has since sparked debate in legal circles as to whether all merchants now have the right to refuse to serve clients because of their religious convictions or for any other reason.

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