Fianna Fáil Senator Fiona O’Loughlin has said the EU Parliament and Irish MEPs must stand up for the LGBT+ community and strongly condemn the anti-LGBT stance which has been taken by some countries in recent months.

Her calls come as one third of Poland has declared “LGBT free zones”, creating hostile spaces for anyone who is not heterosexual or who they deem not to fit so called ‘conventional norms’.

Senator O’Loughlin said, “This week we saw the fifth anniversary of the marriage equality referendum in Ireland. Anyone looking on Twitter couldn’t have missed the throw-back pictures of great celebrations which took place across the country after the overwhelming vote in support of marriage equality.

“This week on Liveline we also heard calls to break the ties between Fermoy in Co. Cork which is twinned with Nowa Deba, in northern Poland. Nowa Deba declared itself an ‘LGBTQ-Free Zone’ and it’s welcome to hear that the people of Fermoy have no tolerance for this.

“The passing of the Same Sex Marriage Referendum in 2015 was a defining moment in our national history and demonstrated that the State cherishes all citizens, irrespective of their sexual identity. To see some European countries, notably Poland and Hungary, display such overt and official homophobia is sickening.

“This is a European issue. The safe freedom of movement of people across the Union is paramount and must be protected. The fact that there is actually a map of LGBT+ ‘no-go’ areas is simply unacceptable and needs to be called out for the blatant discrimination that it is.

“The European Parliament and our Irish MEPs should focus their diplomatic efforts towards tackling homophobia. We can’t simply be idle bystanders when rampant homophobia remains in our borders,” she concluded.