Judge OKs Baltic Gay Pride in Riga in Eleventh Hour Court Decision



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RIGA, May 15, 2009     The Baltic Pride march tomorrow lunchtime will go ahead, a top judge at Riga Administrative Court ruled today, less the 24 hours before the march in Vērmaņdārzs Park and surrounding streets is due to take place.

Bans on Gay Pride Marches in Riga were also lifted by the Latvian courts in 2005, 2005 and 2006.

As expected, the Riga City Council yesterday reversed its decision a week ago to allow the march to go ahead.

The u-turn came after deputy mayor Almers Ludviks presented an ultimatum to the council’s executive director Andris Grīnbergs, insisting that last week’s decision to allow the parade by the commission on meetings and demonstrations be reviewed.

And the deputy mayor, despite being advised that banning the parade would be illegal, threatened to call an extraordinary meeting of the full council of 60 politicians to vote on the reversal if the commission did not act.

Yesterday, the commission met and, in what is seen as a “pre-emptive strike”, quickly reconsidered the matter, announcing a ban and making a late afternoon full council meeting unnecessary.

This gave organisers the time to get the matter into court yesterday for a hearing today.

In court this morning, the representative of the Riga City Council could not provide clear justifications why the City has banned the march.  She also confessed that this year there were no threats to report to the police.

The court hearing was attended by the representatives of No Pride movement, the Roman Catholic Church in Latvia, and a religious sect New Generation Church, led by Russian émigré Alexei Ledyaev who is closely associated with American anti-gay religious and secular groups.

All three religious groups asked the Court to be allowed to participate in the hearing as interested parties.  However the Court had rejected their requests.

In a statement issued immediately following the court hearing, ILGA-Europe said it was “delighted” at the outcome.

“[We] congratulate the Latvian judicial system for yet another instance of defending the fundamental human rights in the country,”, spokesperson Juris Lavrikovs added.

ILGA-Europe’s executive board meeting is taking place in Riga this weekend.  This year ILGA-Europe has established partnership with the Belgian Lesbian and Gay Pride to support the Baltic Pride.

Last week ILGA-Europe and BLGL approached Freddy Thielemans, Mayor of Brussels, who recorded a video message to Janis Birks, Mayor of Riga, supporting the rights of peaceful assembly of LGBT people in the Baltics.


Gay Pride in Riga on Saturday in Doubt as City Council Calls Extraordinary Meeting.  Baltic Gay Pride in Riga this weekend is in doubt, it emerged this afternoon.  Pressure from local city councillors has resulted in the City’s committee on demonstrations and pickets announcing that they will reconvene tomorrow (May 14) to reconsider the matter. (UK Gay News, May 13)

Majority of Riga City Council Members Call for Ban of Saturday’s Gay Pride Parade.  More than half of the members of the Rīga City Council – 34 in all – signed a letter yesterday to the executive director of the city, Andris Grīnbergs, calling on him to cancel permission that was given to hold the Baltic Gay Pride Parade in Vērmaņdārzs Park on Saturday.  (UK Gay News, May 13)

Riga City Council Gives OK to Gay Pride March.  A Riga City Council committee has today approved the march in the city centre during Baltic Gay Pride, officially known a Baltic Friendship Days.  The march is scheduled for Saturday May 16 at Vermanes Darzs park, the location of the first officially approved parade in 2007.  (UK Gay News, May 8, 2009)








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Posted: 15 May 2009 at 12:30 (UK time)


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