The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, has written to the Mayor of Krakow asking him to clarify the Polish city’s opposition to homophobia and LGBT+ oppression.
Last year Edinburgh City Council renewed its “partnership agreement” with Krakow, an arrangement dating back to 1994 in which the two cities cooperate in areas including culture, monument protection and education.
However, recent surges in Polish government hostility towards LGBT+ people has caused council depute leader Cammy Day to call for a “serious rethink” about civic ties between the two cities.
Around 100 municipalities in Poland, including that which covers Krakow, have declared themselves to be “LGBT ideology-free zones”.
Also, the recently re-elected Polish President Andrzej Duda has compared being part of the LGBT+ community to being a communist and during his re-election campaign vowed to “defend children from LGBT ideology”.
Krakow’s Mayor, Jacek Majchrowski, has publicly denounced homophobia and in July this year posted a letter to citizens on social media, saying: “Dear LGBT people, you are not alone.
“We are with you, we support you and we will do everything to make you feel at home in Krakow – because here is your home.”
Nonetheless, the Lord Provost has written to Majchrowski seeking clarification that Krakow stands with its LGBT+ citizens.
Cllr Day has also submitted a council motion calling for a report to be produced outlining any additional support Edinburgh may offer to “assist and support Krakow” resist homophobic policies.
The motion also requests a review of the council’s international strategy, including information on how civic partnerships can support the city’s views and values around equality.
Edinburgh is currently partnered with more than ten cities worldwide including Florence, Kiev, Nice, Munich, and Xi’an and Shenzhen in China.
The scope of Edinburgh’s various partnerships differs but often includes mutual cooperation in areas such as education, monument protection, the economy and culture.
Green councillor Alex Staniforth has also submitted a motion requesting council officers produce a report “detailing options for further action to support the LGBTQ+ community” in Krakow.
Cllr Staniforth said: “The situation in Krakow is complicated.
“The city is within [an administrative region] that has declared itself an ‘LGBT-free zone’, but as recently as 2019 the city’s Mayor ensured LGBTQ+ people had a say in the city’s Equal Treatment Council.
“As an inclusive city Edinburgh should seek the best way forward for the rights of LGBTQ+ people in our partner cities and that means speaking to the organisations on the ground, learning and listening, and understanding what they need to ensure their equality and safety.”
The Lord Provost has been contacted for comment regarding whether he intends to also write to officials in Xi’an and Shenzhen about the reported human rights abuses taking place in China.
By Local Democracy Reporter Noa Hoffman