3rd Dec 2022

Poland waives EU visa costs for gay pride march

The Polish foreign ministry has told Warsaw gay pride organisers that people from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine who want to take part in the march in June will temporarily be able to enter the EU for free.

The costs of a visa to enter the EU's so-called Schengen zone is normally €35 for Russians and Ukrainians and €60 for Belarusians, a big outlay in a country where the average wage is just €300 a month.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Russian and German campaigners at EuroPride in Warsaw in 2010 (Photo:

A Warsaw-based spokesman for the Polish EU presidency, Konrad Niklewicz, said the government is not interested in reputation-building in the run-up to taking over the EU chairmanship in July.

"Minority rights and gender equality are not specific parts of the presidency programme. These are values which the Polish government has always defended, whether there is a presidency or not," he said.

Niklewicz added that the Western stereotype of Poles as Roman Catholic homophobes is unfair: "Poland is a tolerant country and the vast majority of Polish society has absolutely no sympathy for any kind of intolerance toward minority groups."

The Polish presidency's spokesman in Brussels, Kacper Chmielewski, said Warsaw is keen to promote civil society in general in the EU's eastern neighbourhood.

The organisers of Warsaw pride, which is to take place on 11 June, have welcomed the Schengen fee waiver.

They expect several hundred people to come from the three non-EU countries. The move will help Warsaw pride become a "hub" for gay rights in central Europe, where levels of tolerance tend to get worse the further east you go, Warsaw pride spokesperson Jej Perfekcyjonsc said.

Warsaw pride last year pulled in between 6,000 and 12,000 people.

The 2011 edition is to see Polish centre-left MEP Joanna Senyszyn join the march, as well as MPs from the Polish socialist SDL and SDPL factions and from the Greens. The event will culminate in a mini-street party in central Warsaw.

Perfekcyjonsc said that anti-gay groups are likely to try to block the march, carry offensive banners and throw eggs, but that Polish police are "excellent" in stopping anybody who goes too far.

The spokesperson added that not all is as rosy in Poland as its diplomats suggest, however.

"Poland was extremely tolerant by the standards of the times in the 17th and 18th centuries. Then it changed. Now it's in the EU and it's a presidency country, and it's changing again because of these things. But the time has come to really catch up with the most progressive members of the EU."

Perfekcyjonsc said the ruling Civic Platform government is against registered civil unions.

The spokesperson added that the Civic Platform-affiliated and devout Roman Catholic mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, has declined to support Warsaw pride. Gronkiewicz-Waltz told organisers that if she backed one cause, she would have to back them all, including for example, nurses and coal miners.

"Not long ago, she patronised a march of labradors [a kind of dog] through Warsaw. It was to collect money for dog charities. We thought she might see fit to make an exception for a cause like ours as well, but we were wrong."


EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths

The EU Commission has watered-down a broad political initiative —but now governments of member states hold the key to what the EU should do. Some member states and regions have adopted asbestos strategies of some kind, from Poland to Flanders.


Asbestos — two to three times more deadly than known

Where once working men in heavy industry were diagnosed with cancers related to a more direct exposure to asbestos, now women in professions such as teaching, nursing and other occupations are being diagnosed, as well as young people.


Shock gives way to division after Slovak gay bar shooting

Despite the immediate shock and outburst of solidarity after the recent terrorist attack by a 19-year-old sympathiser of far-right conspiracies, Slovak society appears to be absorbed in even deeper ideological divisions on issues related to gender and sexual orientation

Women hardest hit by energy price hike

The current cost-of-living crisis hits harder women, especially single mothers, a survey shows. Also, women in the EU will from Tuesday until the rest of the year "work for free", because of the average 13 percent pay gap.


How EU banks underwrote the Qatar World Cup

European banks and investors have invested heavily in Qatari sovereign bonds, and construction and hospitality companies — with scant attention to well-documented human rights violations.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us