By Rachel Savage
LONDON, March 11 (Openly) - The European Union's parliament symbolically declared the bloc an "LGBTIQ Freedom Zone" on Thursday, in its latest move to censure Hungary and Poland for their curbs on LGBT+ rights.
More than 100 Polish municipalities and regions have adopted anti-LGBT+ resolutions since 2019, leading them to be labelled "LGBT-free zones", while Hungary has also rolled back gay rights in its promotion of a conservative Catholic social agenda.
"LGBTIQ rights are human rights," said the European Parliament resolution, which was passed with 492 votes in favour, 141 against and 46 abstentions, and will be forwarded to EU governments and parliaments.
"LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the European Union should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics without fear."
Poland's ministry of foreign affairs and Hungary's international spokesman in the prime minister's office were not immediately available to comment.
Polish officials have said that the resolutions against "LGBT ideology" have no legal impact and are merely expressing local views. Hungary said that a ban on same-sex adoption introduced last year was based on its Christian cultural values.
The EU has also clashed with the two ex-Communist states over judicial independence and hostility to immigration, and has sought to use its financial clout to influence Polish "LGBT-free zones" by barring them from its town-twinning scheme.
"It's a clear sign of solidarity, which shows that Europe is paying attention to what's going on," said Hubert Sobecki, co-president of the Love Does Not Exclude Association, an LGBT+ rights group in Poland.
"It's a warning signal and from the perspective of the community it counts a lot," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Poland said on Thursday that it plans to vet single people seeking to adopt and bar them if they are living with someone of the same sex, closing a loophole used by gay couples.
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(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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