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Riga Gay Pride March Ban Is Wrong Says, Euro-MP Cashman


Support comes in from across Europe




BRUSSELS, July 20,2006  – Labour MEP Michael Cashman has reacted with anger at the decision by authorities in Latvia to ban this year’s Pride march which was scheduled for this Saturday (22nd July).

“By acquiescing to these extremist groups, the authorities are condoning homophobic discrimination,” fumed Mr. Cashman, who is president of the European Parliament’s ‘Intergroup’ on gay and lesbian rights.

“Moreover, the authorities are denying the Latvian LGBT community their basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly.”

“Instead of banning the march, the Riga authorities should be denouncing those who are intent upon violence. Intolerance, discrimination and violence against homosexuals has no place in our 21st Century world.”

Last month the Latvian parliament came under fire when it voted to remove discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment from new employment legislation.  Passing such a law was one of the pre-conditions for Latvia's accession to the EU back in 2004.

“If politicians in Latvia want to continue enjoying the benefits that membership of the EU brings then they should abide by the rules,” Mr. Cashman added.

“The iron curtain came down over a decade ago.  People’s human rights can no longer be disregarded.”

The European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights has tabled a Parliamentary question to the European Commission calling for urgent action against the Latvian Authorities to ensure that the march is authorised.  It also calls on the Commission to start infringement proceedings against Latvia for the failure to implement the Employment Equality Directive.

Mr. Cashman has sent a letter to the organisers of Riga Gay Pride – and all Latvian gay men and women.

I am deeply saddened that the City authorities have cancelled Riga Pride but their intolerance and weak excuses will not prevail.  We will win the battle for human rights - even if it takes a thousand years.  We will win because goodness and decency and truth are on our side.  The weak decision by the authorities to cancel the march sends a dangerous signal that violence or the threat of violence overcomes respect for fundamental freedoms and democracy.  Those who cherish democracy and the rule of law in Europe will be deeply worried by these events.  We will pursue this with determination both within the European Parliament and within the European Commission.  The fight goes on.

Yours in love and solidarity.

Michael Cashman

Other from across Europe have been sending messages of support to Riga Pride.

I am deeply sad by the reaction of the City authorities not to allow the Riga Pride to go ahead, said Louis-Georges Tin, the founder of International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

The IDAHO Committee expresses all its solidarity with Latvian gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender in their fight for freedom and equality. We do hope that one day Latvia will join France, Belgium and the European Parliament and recognize the day against homophobia.

German Green Party MP Volker Beck said he was scandalised  and disappointed that the City of Riga had decided to ban the Pride march.

This administrative action is not in accordance with the European Human Rights Convention and neglects the democratic standards of the European Union.  My hope and demand is that the Courts of  Latvia will  correct this decision according to international Law,” he said.

Merlin Holland, grandson of Oscar Wilde and an IDAHO ambassador said in a message to Pride organisers:  It is deeply regrettable that yet another Eastern European city is wanting to deny its gay community the right to hold up its head without shame and without fears of violence.

Having seen the ugly face of homophobia in Moscow this spring I commend your courage in standing up for your rights.  Even if the pride does not take place, be proud that you are making a stand against prejudice in Latvia.

Peter Tatchell, who arrived in Riga this afternoon said that there was a lot of energy and activity surrounding Pride in the city.

Riga Pride isn’t just about sexuality anymore. It’s about the right of protest and freedom of expression which is an issue that affects all Latvian people, he said.

Mr. Tatchell said that he would do whatever the organisers want.

If they decide to march illegally in the streets, I’ll be there with them, he pledged.  I am glad to be here to support the Latvian LGBT movement which is battling against authoritarian state that wants to deny human rights LGBT people.



Neo-Nazis Terrorise Riga Gay Pride Rally.  By Peter Tatchell.  Neo-Nazi, Christian fundamentalist and extreme nationalist protesters terrorised participants at the Gay Pride rally in the Latvian capital of Riga last Saturday (July 22, 2006).  Private armed guards were drafted in to provide security, after the Latvian police repeatedly failed to halt the aggression of the homophobic mob. (UK Gay News, July 22, 2006)

Riga Gay Pride: “The Story That Needs To Be Told” Open Letter From Lars.  Dearest friends:  I am writing this in English since the story needs to be told far and wide. This is the story from my perspective. Everyone else who was there will have other stories to share.  Gaston and I are safe after yesterday's well-organized fascist attacks against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community in Riga during Pride.  (UK Gay News, July 22, 2006)

Gay Pride Organisers "Trapped" in Riga Hotel – Rescued by Cabinet Minister  Organisers of Riga Gay Pride have been "rescued" after being trapped for hours in the in the Reval Latvia Hotel, with "hysterical" protesters surrounding the building.  (UK Gay News, July 22, 2006)

Riga Gay Pride: Putting the European Union to the Test.  Commentary.  Sophie In’t Veld, the Dutch MEP and a vice president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup for gay and lesbian rights did not mince her words.  “It’s putting Europe to the test,” she charged.  (UK Gay News, July 22, 2006)

Prohibiting Gay Rights March Is Blow for Democracy. Commentary by Mozaīka.  ... Democracy is being held hostage by the strengthening forces of extremism in Latvian society.  These forces have been encouraged by the unwillingness of the political elite to rein them in, and indeed by the continuous barrage of hate speech indulged in with impunity by many politicians themselves.  (UK Gay News, July 22, 2006)

Riga Gay Pride: It's Worse Than Moscow.  By Nikolai Alexeyev.  It is astonishing.  It’s worse than Moscow.  There is total chaos here.  The police seem very weak and disorganized. The fascists are able to act at will. And Latvia is in the European Union.  (UK Gay News, July 22, 2006)

Citing National Security, Court Says No To Riga Gay Pride.  The Administrative Court in Riga has this afternoon upheld the decision of the City authorities to ban the Gay Pride Parade, due to be held tomorrow, on the grounds of “national security” and concerns over public order.  (UK Gay News, July 21, 2006)

Riga Gay Pride: We Will Not Organise Any Illegal Event.  As the decision of the Administrative Court as to whether or not tomorrow’s Gay Pride March in Riga can go ahead, organisers said today that “regardless of the outcome, we will not organise any illegal event”.  (UK Gay News, July 21, 2006)

Latvian President and Amnesty Both Condemn Restriction of LGBT Rights.  The President of Latvia and Amnesty International (AI) have both issued statements this morning following yesterday’s decision by the Riga City Council to ban this weekend’s planned Gay Pride march in the capital.  (UK Gay News, July 19, 2006)

A Blow for Democracy: Riga Council Denies Permit for Gay Pride March.  The Riga city council this morning denied a permit Saturday’s “Riga Pride 2006” march.  The city council justified its decision by invoking threats of violence allegedly received from extremist groups – and the police’s inability to guarantee security and order during the march. (UK Gay News, July 19, 2006)

Latvian Priest Strongly Supports Riga Gay PrideAn English translation of an interview with openly gay Maris Sants conducted by GayRussia website.  (UK Gay News, July 17, 2006)

 Tension and Uncertainty Rising Around Second Gay Pride in Riga.  Latvian interior minister Dzintars Jaundžeikars went on record last week that the Interior Ministry would not be able to provide adequate security during this year’s Pride March, scheduled to be held on Saturday (July 22). (UK Gay News, July 16, 2006)

Prominent Foreign Politicians to Take Part in Riga Pride Several European politicians will be taking part in Friendship Days and Riga Gay Pride, due to take place in the Latvian capital next week.  (UK Gay News, July 16, 2006)




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Posted: 20 July 2006 at 15:30 (UK time) -Updated 20 July at 22.00