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LATVIA/USA

Janis Smits Initially Rebuffed by Council of Europe While His Religious Latvian Pals Plan Anti-Gay Hate Mission to USA

 

From Smits to Ledyaev to Lively to Hutcherson and Watchmen on the Walls
(Note: Watchmen on the Walls group in this article has NO connections with the Christians-for-Israel group of the same name)

 

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■ Latvian politician Janis Smits, who chairs the Parliament's Social Affairs and Human Rights Committee, pictured at the anti-gay rally to protest Riga Pride 2006.
photo courtesy
Juris Lavrikovs, ILGA-Europe
 

UK Gay News Commentary

Never let it be said that the movers and shakers in the Council of Europe (CoE) lack guts.

This week, Andreas Gross, rapporteur of the Judicial and Human Rights Committee of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), was in Latvia and invited the Latvian Parliamentary Social Affairs and Human Rights Committee to lunch.

Well, not quite all of the committee.  Excluded was chairperson Janis Smits, whose homophobic outbursts are legendary.

Parliamentarian Smits closely allies himself with Alexey Ledyaev who heads the worldwide New Generation Church, a particularly homophobic so-called “Christian” church with its world headquarters in Riga.

And “pastor” Ledyaev is best buddies with the likes of Scott Lively of The Pink Swastika infamy, former NFL “hitman” turned preacher Ken Hutcherson, and the international anti-gay movement Watchmen on the Walls, which specialises in violent gay-bashing thuggery – and there are allegations in the USA that suggest Watchmen on the Walls had something to do with the vicious murder of a young Fijian man of Indian descent, Satender Singh, near Sacramento, California, last July.
 

  IMPORTANT NOTE:  the Watchman on the Walls group in this article has NO CONNECTION with the Christians-for-Israel group.  

Back in Latvia this week, Janis Smits took exception at not getting an invitation to the lunch.  The Latvian media was full of the snub of the homophobic chairperson.

Juris Lavrikovs of ILGA-Europe provided a resumé of what the media reports:

When speaking to journalists, Janis Smits described [the lack of an invitation] as ‘personal discrimination’.  However later, following personal request, he was included in the list of the lunch invitees.

During a meeting with Mr Gross, Janis Smits insisted that Latvia is “Nordic nation” and he is convinced, therefore, that Latvians do not “exhibit their feelings” about sexuality.

PACE’s Judicial and Human Rights Committee received a proposal for a recommendation signed by 12 members of the Parliamentary Assembly for legal recognition of same-sex unions in all CoE countries.  Boriss Cilevic, Latvian member of the Parliamentary Assembly, also signed this proposal.

The proposal points out that in recent years the authorities in some member states of the Council of Europe have banned or attempt to ban peaceful demonstrations by lesbians and gay men.  The proposed recommendation points out that sexual minorities have the same right to assemble and protect their rights, while the authorities have to restrain from such expressions which can insinuate legitimisation of discrimination.

Janis Smits said that proposed recommendation is an initiative of 12 socialists and liberals and he believes will not get support from other PACE members.

After the lunch meeting with Mr Gross, Janis Smits told the media that sexual minorities’ events are being sponsored by foreign countries and “this is sort of revolution-making inside other countries which has nothing to do with human rights”.

While speaking to Mr Gross, Janis Smits stressed that if we want to live in harmonious society, then both sides need to respect each other’s view.

However when speaking to the media, Janis Smits said that so-called Gay Pride events should be called “Pederasts Pride”.

This is a very enlightening resumé of media reportage – and it backs up Mr. Gross’ initial feeling of not to invite Janis Smits.

While there is nothing new in Janis Smits equating homosexuality to pædophilia, his views on the aspect of CoE’s Parliamentary Assembly looking for all member countries introducing recognition of same-sex partnerships (not NOT marriage) and how it would affect Latvia are new.

And, of course, they slot in nicely with the preachings of the New Generation Church.

Janis Smits is no stranger to “anti-gay” demonstrations in Latvia.  While he is not known to have been seen wearing one of the “No Pederasts” t-shirts, he has been seen – even photographed – with placards containing the “No Pederasts” symbol at anti-gay pride rallies.

As for Alexey Ledyaev, he will be in the Pacific northwest of America next week as guest of honour at a Watchmen on the Walls three-day rally being staged at the publicly-owned Lynnwood Convention Center, just north of Seattle, and close to Ken Hutcherson’s Antioch Bible “mega church” which spews anti-gay hate under the guise of “protecting the family”.

Up to 700 participants are expected at the event, including Eastern European émigrés from across the USA, such as representatives from New Generation churches in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California and Seattle itself.

Watchmen on the Walls, one remembers, were heavily involved in a “coalition” that included the New Generation Church and No Pride in the violence, which included the throwing of animal excrement at gays during the 2006 Riga Pride.

According to respected blogs in the Seattle area, officials at the Lynnwood Convention Center were, up to two days ago, totally unaware of the nature of the booked Watchmen on the Walls conference.

This was due to the fact that there are two organisations with the same name.

But there can be no question of the links between the New Generation Church and the Watchmen on the Walls group that is staging the conference in Lynnwood next week.

The domain of the groups website, watchmenonthewalls.com, is registered to Sergey Prikhodko who is the pastor at the New Generation Church in Seattle.  And his telephone number listed on the New Generation Church USA website is the same as that on the events graphic (below)
 

David Schmader, associate editor and columnist at The Stranger, a Seattle weekly newspaper, wrote yesterday on his publication’s blog that “Calls made [Wednesday] to the Convention Center revealed administrators’ ignorance of what they were getting themselves into”.

And he also quotes Scott Lively speaking to the Washington Times, owned by the Unification Church:

The Watchmen portray the battle against gay rights as nothing less than a biblical clash of civilizations. “The homosexual sexual ethic” and “family-based society” are at war, [anti-gay activist and leading Watchman Scott] Lively proclaimed in his letter to The Washington Times. “One must prevail at the expense of the other.”

As freelance journalist and assistant editor of Crosscut David Neiwert blogged on Orcinus:

Well, the facade is finally starting to crumble. The latest permutation in the religious right's anti-gay crusade appears ripe to take a decidedly violent turn.

Casey Sanchez at the SPLC has disturbing report about the coalition building between West Coast fundamentalist churches -- particularly here in the Northwest -- and a Latvian-based group of far-right fundamentalists who explicitly encourage, and in fact help manifest, violent gay-bashing thuggery.

One of the leaders in this growing coalition is a Seattle-area pastor, Rev. Ken Hutcherson, who has been
involved in opposing civil rights for gays for some time. No doubt thanks to him, we in fact will be hosting a gathering of these thugs in Christian clothing next week just up the road from my home.

"We church leaders need to stop being such, for lack of a better word, sissies when it comes to social and political issues," [Scott] Lively argues in a widely-circulated tract called Masculine Christianity. "For every motherly, feminine ministry of the church such as a Crisis Pregnancy Center or ex-gay support group we need a battle-hardened, take-it-to-the-enemy masculine ministry like [the anti-abortion group] Operation Rescue."

Lively identifies "the enemy" as not only homosexuals, but also what he terms "homosexualists," a category that includes anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, who "actively promotes homosexuality as morally and socially equivalent to heterosexuality as a basis for social policy."

David Neiwert concludes by saying that he has “an unpleasant feeling that we’ll all be learning a lot more about these goons in the not-too-distant future”.

Over at the Seattle Times, columnist David Postman observed that Watchmen on the Walls was mainly an overseas group.  Then, quoting The Slooger, said:  “As featured Watchmen speaker Pastor Alexey Ledyaev put it, the Watchmen’s mission is “to bring the laws of our nations in[to] full compliance with the law of God”. This Taliban-esque mission is made more alarming by the anti-gay violence that tends to swarm around Watchmen events.”

Back to David Schmader who wrote, not unreasonably in view of the overseas – especially Latvian – aspect of Watchmen:  “Correct me if I’m wrong, but foreigners coming to America with the purpose of doing harm to Americans are traditionally called terrorists, and the Watchmen conference seems like the last thing the City of Lynnwood would want to align itself with.”

Latvian preacher Ledyaev, who is renowned for sending his congregation into trances while he indoctrinates with ant-gay hate – and there are videos available on the Internet to support this, might not consider himself to be a terrorist.  And the same goes for the White House.

Alexey Ledyaev was invited – and attended – the 2006 National Prayer Breakfast hosted by President George Bush.

And at the beginning of this year, on February 7,  Ledyaev – along with Hutcherson – paid another visit to the White House and met with Jan Hain, the director of the  White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

In was at this meeting that Hutcherson insists he was appointed a “special White House envoy” – and he used this title went on a visit to Riga in March.

“I come to you representing the White House,” Hutcherson told a conference in Riga..
 

We are here to make sure the United States is not being used to push gay rights.  That’s the view of the right.  And I have the power and the commission to ask these questions,” he also said at the New Generation Church meeting.

 
■ Hutcherson speaking in Riga in March

The White House press office vehemently denied such an appointment. 

And senior Latvian politician Janis Smits talks about Latvian gay events being “sponsored by foreign countries and this is sort of revolution-making inside other countries which has nothing to do with human rights” might bring a smile or two in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe.

Obviously, with Mr. Gross’ stance on the initial lack of a lunch invitation for Janis Smits, the Council of Europe are all too well aware of the homophobic “mind games” being played in certain parts of Riga.

And with the United States of America being observer members of the Council of Europe, perhaps a little diplomatic contact with the US Government might be in order to warn of next week’s “invasion of Watchmen”.


 

 
■ Riot police keep an eye on "No Pride" protesters at this year's Gay Pride in Riga.
photo
© UK Gay News
 

SEE ALSO

The Anti-Gay US-Latvian Axis: Homophobes of All Nations, Come Together!  By Kārlis Streips.  Once again we can prove to ourselves that religious extremists do not live in our world, they live in some parallel world which they alone are aware of.  It has been reported that the noisy structure known as “New Generation” invited an American called Kenneth Hutcherson to visit. (UK Gay News, March 30, 2007)

This Is War, Anti-Gay American Preacher Hutcherson Tells Europe.  As news emerged that a new “anti-gay” group had been registered in Latvia, the plot thickened as to the involvement of an American preacher with religious groups in the country who told an American newspaper: “this is a war”, referring to his anti-gay campaign in Europe.  (UK Gay News, March 30, 2007)

Anti-Gay Latvian Group Charges Blair With Interfering In Domestic Politics.  A letter of protest has been sent to British Prime Minister Tony Blair by the Latvian “No Pride” group, which organised the protest against Riga Gay Pride last year when demonstrators threw excrement at Pride participants.  (UK Gay News, March 12, 2007)

Ambassador Welcomes Gay Pride Accord Between London and Riga.  The ‘Statement of Unity’ between Pride London as Rigas Praidas, due to be formally signed this evening in Riga, was another important ‘first’ for Anglo-Latvian friendship, the British Ambassador, Ian Bond, said last night at an Embassy reception for members of Mozaika and the visiting officials Pride London to mark the signing.  (UK Gay News, March 8, 2007)

Mayor of London Urges New Mayor of Riga to Press on With Latvian Gay Pride March The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, today welcomed the statement of the new Mayor of Riga saying he was “ashamed” of the attack on the Gay Pride march in that city last year and urged him to ensure that the peaceful Gay Pride march in the city this year could proceed.  (UK Gay News, March 5, 2007)

New Riga Mayor Ashamed of Events at Last Year’s Gay Pride.  Jānis Birks, the newly elected Mayor of Riga, appears to have no issues with the Gay Pride parade in the Latvian capital.  He was interviewed by the internet-based news portal Vdiena.lv which is run by the biggest Latvian daily newspaper “Diena”.  (UK Gay News, March 3, 2007)

Smits: Gay Issue Is Not Urgent.  Janis Smits has said that “the gay issue” is not an urgent matter for the Latvian Parliamentary Human Rights Committee.  The outspoken and homophobic MP was chosen on Monday by committee members to be its chairperson.  (UK Gay News, November 22, 2006)

Fiercely Anti-Gay Politician Selected at Chair of Latvian Parliament Human Rights and Social Affairs Committee The Lativan Saeima (Parliament) has confirmed this afternoon the nomination of Jānis Šmits as the chairperson of the Saeima’s Human Rights and Social Affairs Committee.  And Europe is outraged.  (UK Gay News, November 20, 2006)

GAY PRIDE COVERAGE (all pages contain links to other Riga Pride coverage that year)

Riga Gay Pride 2007 Coverage:  Peaceful Gay Pride Staged in Riga Amid Tight Security

Riga Gay Pride 2006 Coverage:  “The Story That Needs To Be Told”.

Riga Gay Pride 2005 Coverage:  Riga Gay Pride: “A Sad, Sad Day. Society Is Sick” – Juris Lavrikovs

 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.  

Posted: 12 October 2007 at 15:00 (UK time)
updated 12 October at 22:00

 

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