Protect Our Twins
Human rights are under threat in our twinned towns in Poland: across the UK it's time to help
We're asking local councils twinned with towns in Poland to start active diplomatic engagement to champion equality and human rights in the face of the "LGBT ideology free" zones Poland has created. Local communities in our twinned towns are now under threat, people are discriminated against, and human rights have been attacked.
- More than 100 LGBT+ #HateZones exist and more being lobbied for
- Local councils in Poland decide this through local resolutions
- UK has dozens of twinned town arrangements dating back decades
- We have to look after the communities we're twinned with
- Read our briefing about LGBT+ rights in Poland here
- It's time to #ProtectOurTwins
The UK must take a stance: #ProtectOurTwins
"Events in Poland should concern the whole international community", explains campaign leader Layla Moran MP. "Labelling LGBT as an 'ideology' and supressing LGBT people is outrageous. Many of these towns are twinned with those here in the UK. We cannot stand by; we must Protect Our Twins, and the LGBT communities who live there."
It's time to #ProtectOurTwins.- Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) March 10, 2021
Today the @LibDems launch a new campaign to encourage UK towns to work with their Polish twins to defend human rights in Poland's #LGBT #HateZones.
Join us in sending a clear message.#LoveIsLove 🏳️🌈🇵🇱🇬🇧🇪🇺https://t.co/1DMvbXb7za
More than 100 local districts in Poland have declared themselves 'free of LGBT ideology'. "The President of the Republic of Poland publicly calls LGBT people as 'ideology', the Catholic Church calls us "rainbow plague" and the Minister of Education publicly declared that we 'are not human' and that we 'have no rights', explains Anna Grodzka, the Polish human rights campaigner, former Polish MP and the first openly trans MP.
Grodzka is a strong supporter of this campaign. "The situation here in Poland gives public consent to hate, hate crimes and hate speech against the LGBT community. This is too hard for many people to bear. The twinning town campaign is a gesture of solidarity and willingness to help, and it's very valuable to us. This is all the more valuable as LGBT people and women have found themselves in a particularly difficult situation in recent months in Poland."
#ProtectOurTwins - why twinned town relationships are key
Many twinning relationships date back generations and signify deep cultural ties. UK towns and communities do not share the discrimination that is happening in some Polish regions.
International pressure is critical
Activists and political groups in Poland are looking for our support. "We welcome this initiative to engage constructively with the towns and cities of Poland to reflect on human rights, particularly on LGBT+ rights", said Monika Rosa, member of Poland' Parliament, the Sejm, on behalf of the Nowoczesna party who have endorsed the campaign.
"It's crucially important to take action against the systematic discrimination of minorities in Poland and promote European values on all levels of Government. We are convinced that European liberals still have an important role to play here and this initiative of the UK Liberal Democrats is a great example of mobilization for Human Rights beyond the borders."
Why #ProtectOurTwins is a cross-party initiative
This is about human rights. It's about the most fundamental of freedoms we have. And it's something we hope all parties will join us unreservedly in supporting locally and nationally.
We hope all Councillors feel as appalled as we've felt, watching events in Poland unfold. This is their chance to show their values, and to show leadership from their community to the twinned district. At a national level in Poland, the rights of women have been attacked, the independence of the judiciary has been undermined, key freedoms have been eroded. The LGBT hate zones are the only attack on rights at a specific local level, and that's why we need all councillors to step-up.
What can your council do?
Local Councils are being asked to pass motions to begin a formal period of engagement to reflect the need for education and humanity. We want a constructive dialogue between councils, and to communicate directly with groups who are threatened. This dialogue will guide whether any review of twinning arrangements is needed.
- For regions that have enacted the hate zones, they will be asked to end them.
- For regions considering creating hate zones, they will be asked to stop.
- For regions that have rejected the hate zones, they are being thanked for upholding human rights.
- For regions that have not yet had the debate, they'll be asked to consider the human rights implications of these zones, and the discrimination they bring.
➡️ For copies of draft motions, contact the campaign team and sign up here
How does the campaign work? 5 pillars…
During this engagement period, Local Councils are encouraged to select from "5 pillars of engagement" to build dialogue with the twinned communities. These are ways to communicate our values by reaching out to:
- The LGBT+ community, with direct support to local LGBT+ groups
- Businesses to ask they sign a charter in support of human rights for all citizens, and that they commit to fight discrimination
- Educational institutions, by supporting universities and colleges with advice and dialogue
- Health groups because of the need to support the local LGBT+ community, especially with local mental health and wellbeing services
- Cultural organisations to actively look for ways to celebrate diversity, challenge discrimination and change attitudes through arts and cultures
UK councils will be writing to the Mayors of Polish areas twinned with UK towns to show demonstrable support and solidarity with the local LGBT+ community. These public letters will clarify whether the local resolutions are remaining in place, before the UK Council considers how to take forward any review of twinning relationships.
➡️ For draft letters, contact the campaign team and sign up for updates here
Which UK councils and regions does this affect?
There are dozens of twinned towns. As the situation in local Polish districts is often changing, we're keeping an updated list of which UK Councils this affects. You can see the current spread of the hate zones on the Atlas of Hate https://atlasnienawisci.pl
➡️ For the current list, sign up for updates on this campaign here
If you're not twinned, can you take part?
Yes. Every UK council has an opportunity to take part. Even if you don't have twinning relationships, you can join as signatories to a national letter that outlines the concerns the country has.
➡️ To take part, sign up for updates on this campaign here
How else can you help?
- Social media sharing: share this page through Twitter and Facebook and encourage them to join you.
- Get people talking with hashtags? We're describing this as… #ProtectOurTwins is about protecting #HumanRights in Poland's #LGBT #HateZones (the association of these hashtags is key and if you tag the @LibDems as well that's a bonus!)
➡️ Petition: Other groups have mobilised alongside us. The key petition is from our friends at AllOut, so please sign this to show your support. Sign the petition here
#ProtectOurTwins in the news:
- The Independent, 'UK twinned towns urged to lobby Polish counterparts against 'LGBT free zones'
- Pink News, 'Lib Dem MP Layla Moran urges Brits to protect Poland's under-siege LGBT+ community'
- Attitude, 'UK twinned towns urged to support Polish 'LGBT-free zones'
Who's helping Layla Moran MP launch Protect Our Twins?
Layla Moran MP:
"The President of the Republic of Poland publicly calls LGBT people as "ideology", the Catholic Church calls us "rainbow plague" and the Minister of Education publicly declared that we "are not human" and that we "have no rights ". That situation gives public consent to hate, hate crimes and hate speech against the LGBT community. This is too hard for many people to bear. Your gesture of solidarity and willingness to help is very valuable to us. This is all the more valuable as LGBT people and women have found themselves in a particularly difficult situation in recent months in Poland."
Monika Rose, member of the Sejm (Polish Parliament), on behalf of Nowoczesna:
"We welcome your initiative to engage constructively with the towns and cities of Poland to reflect on human rights, particularly on LGBT+ rights. This crucially important to take action against the systematic discrimination of minorities in Poland and promote European values on all levels of Government. We are convinced that European liberals still have an important role to play here and this initiative of the UK Liberal Democrats will be a great example of mobilization for Human Rights beyond the borders."
Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, Chair of Liberal International British Group:
"We are holding out our hands in support and solidarity with our friends and fellow LGBT+ citizens in Poland whose rights are being negated by the creation of these 'hate zones' which goes against fundamental human rights, both in terms of UN and EU law. Enabling dialogue is key to sharing the recognised values 'Liberals'believe in, and by engaging in discussion at a local council level, as well as with our sister Liberal Party Nowaczezna, is the way to hopefully reverse these local resolutions and show our solidarity with the people of Poland."
Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London and former MEP
"It is an infringement of European values and fundamental rights to see Polish towns declaring themselves 'free of LGBT ideology'. Sexuality has nothing to do with ideology - this move is a clear breach of human rights. I utterly condemn this discrimination and stand in solidarity with Poland's LGBT+ community as they fight back against hate. As a Member of the European Parliament, I spoke out against the Polish government's homophobic rhetoric and actions, calling upon the European Commission to stand up for the rule of law. I am proud my former colleagues in the European Parliament have since brought about the introduction of a rule of law mechanism - the Commission must now not be afraid to use it. The UK Government must also make clear it stands in solidarity with the Polish people."
David Chalmers, Chair of the Liberal Democrat European Group:
Irina von Wiese, former MEP:
|"In launching the 'Protect our Twins' campaign the Liberal Democrats are showing solidarity with our Polish sister party Nowoczesna, standing up for the fundamental values at the heart of our party. We are using our strength at local council level throughout the UK for Lib Dem Councillors to encourage their councils to engage with their twin towns in Poland and show support for the Polish LGBT+ community. We may have left the European Union but we still have a key role to play in defending the human rights of all citizens - to be treated equally and fairly. This is what our party is about and why I am proud to be a Liberal Democrat."||"As a Member of the European Parliament, I have seen how international cooperation and solidarity can help citizens across Europe. Twinning is about cultural exchange between towns and cities, about celebrating shared values. We are calling on UK and Polish towns to join forces in supporting their LGBT+ communities and fighting homophobia in all forms."||
Karen Melchior, Radikale Party:
Being free to be yourself and to love the ones you love - it's a fundamental right! We have no place for homophobia and hate speech anywhere in Europe. Our towns twinned with Polish towns should support the rights of LGBTIQ people in the fight against intolerance and violence. Nobody's free until everybody's free. EU is a LGBTIQ freedom zone!"