Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has welcomed the recognition of Fermoy’s leadership on the issue of LGBTIQ rights by the European Parliament this week.
The Cork town officially terminated its 14-year twinning arrangement with the Polish town of Nowa Dęba, an LGBT-Free Zone, in October of last year.
The partnership previously included visits to and from Fermoy and the Eastern Polish town, in addition to cultural events and exchanges over the course of the past 14 years.
Nowa Dęba is one of almost 100 Polish municipalities which has become an LGBT Free-Zone after declaring themselves free of “LGBT ideology”.
MEP Kelleher said the recognition of the progressive leadership of the town was welcomed.
“This is a welcome recognition of the progressive leadership Fermoy gave when faced with choosing to maintain its twinning relationship with the Polish town of Nowa Dęba or stand up for LGBTI rights. Fermoy’s stance forced the Nowa Dęb authorities to back down and rescind its declaration.
The resolution by the European Parliament will unambiguously declare that there can be zero toleration of discrimination in the Union on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“While the Union’s laws already prohibit discrimination, this is a symbolic rebuke to the Polish authorities, who have declared LGBTI Free Zones in their countries in an effort to scare, harass and stigmatise LGBTI citizens,” he said.
He said that he fully expects “an overwhelming majority of MEPs” to support the declaration that he said should give hope to LGBTIQ citizens across the Union, particularly in member states where national and local governments are attempting to undermine their basic human rights.
“Union laws are clear. Member states that join the EU commit to upholding them. If they cannot and will not, then they must be sanctioned using the new Rule of Law mechanisms.
If they continue to flagrantly breach their responsibilities under EU law, then their access to EU funds, and ultimately their membership of the Union must be on the table.
“Fermoy’s leadership on this issue is a very proud moment for Ireland. It does show that actions even by small communities can have an impact in combating homophobia and transphobia on the global stage,” he said.