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Clement Beaune, France's minister for European affairs, has come out as gay, and he says he intends to fight for LGBTQ+ rights on the continent -- including by visiting the cities in Poland that have declared themselves "LGBT-free" zones.
"I am gay, and I have no problem saying it," Beaune told the French LGBTQ+ magazine Tetu, according to Politico's European edition. The full Tetu interview will be published Wednesday.
Beaune, 39, said he wanted to show that being gay was "not an obstacle" to becoming a government minister, similar to a cabinet position in the U.S. President Emmanuel Macron named him minister for European affairs in July, and his duties include managing France's economic and political relationships with other European nations, plus promoting human rights around the continent. He had held several government posts previously.
His support for LGBTQ+ rights isn't self-serving, he told Tetu. "I wouldn't want people to say I am fighting against 'LGBT-free' zones because I am gay," he said. "It would be insulting to say I am leading that fight for myself. ... However, as European affairs minister, I have an additional responsibility. I must fight for tolerance."
He's busy right now with matters relating to Brexit, the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, but he plans to visit the Polish "LGBT-free" cities early next year. He also intends to meet with an abortion rights group in Poland.
Poland has seen rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in the past few years, with several towns designating themselves "LGBT-free" and the reelection this year of homophobic President Andrzej Duda, whose platform included promises to block marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples. Duda has also said the LGBTQ+ equality movement is worse than communism. There has been backlash against Poland's regressive ways, with the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, withdrawing funds from six cities that had declared themselves "LGBT-free." The Polish national government has offered to make up the funds to the cities.