Historic European LGBT pride underway in Poland

The 18th edition of Europride, the annual European lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride event, is underway. Saturday 17 July will see the festival culminate with tens of thousands marching in Warsaw; this is the first time the European pride festival takes place in Eastern Europe.

Europride 2010Poland joined the European Union in 2004, but still fails to provide LGBT people with adequate legal protection and address omnipresent homophobia. Polish authorities also refuse to recognise same-sex unions registered abroad, and prevent their citizens from entering a same-sex union abroad. Polish authorities have illegally banned LGBT human rights campaigners from marching publicly, prompting a ruling against the country by Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights in 2007.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, is on her way to Warsaw to meet with national parliamentarians, human rights activists and LGBT business leaders from across Europe. She has invited members of the Polish parliament to a debate on LGBT rights, entitled Don’t be afraid to talk to each other! She will also address visitors of an ILGA-Europe exhibition on same-sex families, supported by herself and the Intergroup on LGBT Rights.

On her way to Warsaw, Ulrike Lunacek declared: “It’s incredibly positive that this pan‑European event is now taking place in a former Communist country. Not only does it constitute a very important signal for Eastern Europe that mentalities do slowly change, but it also shows how membership of the European Union can facilitate this change. When I think of the support expressed by Jerzy Buzek, the Polish President of the European Parliament, earlier this year, LGBT rights in Poland and across the European Union are truly becoming part of mainstream politics.”

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-president of the Intergroup, further added: “The Polish President of the European Parliament and former Polish Prime Minister expressed his opposition to homophobia last May. I know he will be watching Warsaw on Saturday, and I hope that he will, one day, take part in these historic celebrations of human rights for all.”

The 2011 edition of Europride will take place in Rome, Italy.

Updated on 14 July at 17:00 CET.