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France’s Europe minister: I’m gay and I plan to visit ‘LGBT-free zones’ in Poland

French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told a magazine to be published on Wednesday that he is gay and plans to visit a so-called LGBT-free zone in Poland to support local activists.

France's Europe minister: I'm gay and I plan to visit 'LGBT-free zones' in Poland
Photo: AFP

Beaune told French magazine Têtu in an interview that he would travel to Poland at the start of next year to “support one of the associations defending abortion rights”, adding that “this will not prevent me from also holding talks with my Polish counterpart”.

Poland's abortion rights, adopted in 1993 as part of a church-state compromise after the collapse of communism, are among the most restrictive in Europe.

 

Beaune had previously called “LGBT-ideology free zones” set up by several local councils in Poland “an absolute scandal”.

He acknowledged in the interview that the Polish government was not directly responsible for the local bans, “but members of the ruling party encourage and implement them”.

Beaune, who has taken a prominent role in the Brexit negotiations, has not previously mentioned his sexual orientation in media interviews. But he told the magazine: “I'm gay, and I'm happy with that.”

The EU's executive arm, the European Commission, refuses to hand over EU subsidies to local authorities establishing such zones.

Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen warned in September that LGBT-free zones have “no place in our union”.

Poland has the worst record for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights in the European Union, according to rights organisation the Council of Europe.

In a report released last week, the Council's human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic said leading politicians were responsible for a worsening over the past three years of the already poor treatment of LGBTI people in the east European country.

She called for the revocation of anti-LGBTI declarations and charters, and for the rejection of what she said were several bills targeting LGBTI people currently going through the Polish parliament.

Polish laws do not recognise non-heterosexual unions, and transgender people must undergo a long and costly legal procedure to get their status recognised, the report said.

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POLITICS

French police hold 10 over Channel boat disaster

French police were holding 10 people suspected of involvement in the November 2021 Channel drowning of migrants in which 27 people died, a judicial source said on Thursday.

French police hold 10 over Channel boat disaster

One has been charged with manslaughter and people-trafficking, and the nine others were to be taken before a judge who will decide whether to charge them as well, the source said, asking not to be named.

Police had arrested 15 people suspected of involvement overnight Sunday to Monday, but released five of them without charges.

The death of the 27 in late November was the worst disaster in the Channel since 2018, when the narrow strait became a key route for migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia who have been increasingly using small boats to reach England from France.

Among the 27 — aged seven to 47 — were 16 Iraqi Kurds, four Afghans, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese migrant.

Only two people survived the disaster, which sparked tension between the British and French governments, with President Emmanuel Macron vowing France would not allow the Channel to become a “cemetery”.

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