The introduction of the so-called "LGBT-free zones" in Poland has had a negative impact on the mental health of many Poles, a new research found.
"LGBT-free zones" were approved by some local authorities in Poland that discriminate the non-heteronormative community. They began to appear in 2019-20 in the eastern and southern regions of the country, where there is a predominantly conservative electorate.
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Resolutions to instate such "zones" declared a particular town, municipality, county or province to be or to become "LGBT-free". When the European Union and other institutions threatened to cut funding for such regions, many of them withdrew their discriminatory policies.
The introduction of the "zones" has had a negative impact on Poles' mental health, which is now confirmed by the results of a study by three researchers. They are Chad Meyerhoefer from Lehigh University, Bingjin Xue from the University of New Hampshire and Anna Poznańska from the National Institute of Public Health. Their findings were published in the journal of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Alarming effects of anti-LGBT resolutions
The introduction of anti-LGBT resolutions has resulted in a 16% increase in suicide attempts in the areas covered by the "zones". This is an increase of five people per 100,000 inhabitants. This affected mainly men and resulted in 11 additional suicides per 100,000 people aged 30-49.
The Polish average was lower. During the same period, the number of suicide attempts nationwide increased by an average of 10%.
The researchers found that the number of suicide attempts also increased in regions that had considered but eventually rejected anti-LGBT resolutions.
"This study confirms everything that doctors and psychologists have warned against - hate speech and stigmatisation kill people," Bart Staszewski, an LGBTQ+ activist and president of the Basta Foundation, which monitors homophobia in the media, told Gazeta Wyborcza.