Rising Anti-LGBTQ Sentiment Is Isolating Poland’s Small Towns

Rising Anti-LGBTQ Sentiment Is Isolating Poland’s Small Towns
LGBTQ rights supporters protest in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

A thousand miles separate the quaint French commune of Saint-Jean-de-Braye, in the central Loiret region, from the rural Polish town of Tuchow, east of Krakow. But for 20 years, they could have easily been next-door neighbors.

Educational exchanges first brought the municipalities together in the mid-1990s, followed by the signing of a formal twin town agreement in 2000. The next two decades were filled with signs of their close relations: Local officials regularly traveled back and forth to see each other, while residents took sightseeing visits and pupils were offered apprenticeships. The small, tight-knit nature of the two communities—their combined population is less than 30,000—allowed residents to develop close friendships.

But in February, the two towns’ partnership came to a screeching halt. Saint-Jean-de-Braye decided to suspend ties with Tuchow after elected officials there passed a resolution declaring themselves free of what they called “LGBT ideology.”

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