LATVIA

Anti-Gay Group Tells Foreigners to Stay Away From Latvia For Pride

 

… But they invite American guest
 

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Protesters calling on Tuesday for Riga Pride to be banned this weekend.  The demonstration was organised by the No Pride coalition.
 

 RIGA, May 31, 2007 (UK Gay News)  — Foreign guests, please don’t come to Latvia for Riga Friendship Days and Gay Pride.  That is the message from the ‘No Pride’ group, who have not headed their own plea.

They say on their website:  “Foreign Guests please don’t come. It’s our problem. Not yours!”

However, foreign guests appear to be welcome to be in town for the four-day ‘festival’, which has opened today (May 31), if they support the No Pride viewpoint.

Scott Lively, the American author of The Pink Swastika, is reported to be already in Riga.

“He has asked if he can attend the conference on family models in Latvia and Europe,” a spokesperson for Mozaika, the organisers of Riga Friendship Days and Gay Pride, said last night.

There  are rumours here that the American preacher and former NFL linebacker Ken Hutcherson, who heads the Antioch Bible Church in Seattle, will also be in Riga this weekend.

Both Lively and Hutcherson were in Riga earlier this year following in invitation from the New Generation Church.  It was on this visit that Hutcherson said that he was an “envoy of the White House”, which was subsequently strongly denied by the White House.

 
■ The spelling could be better, but the message is clear.  One example of the anti-gay graffiti that can be seen in Riga.
photo: UK Gay News
 

Tomorrow’s conference Family Models: Diversity and Equality, which is financially supported by the European Union, has run into problems already.  It was scheduled to be held at the Riga Congress Hall.

But yesterday, Mozaika was told that the Hall had pulled the event, which is now being held at the nearby Islande Hotel, Ķīpsalas iela 20.

The Mozaika spokesperson said that all the indications are that pressure was put on the Congress Hall management, probably the threat of a blockade of the building which was the tactic of No Pride last year.

Anti-Gay and Pride factions have also managed to get the Double Coffee chain of coffeehouses to remove the Mozaika postcards from rack in their many Riga outlets.

“Threats were made to the company,” the spokesperson said.  “And Double Coffee capitulated.”

This move has shocked gays in Riga, who are now boycotting the company.

On Tuesday, the No Pride group, a coalition  of homophobic groups that include the New Generation Church, the National Front, and ad hoc ‘skinhead’ groups, staged a demonstration against Friendship Days and Gay Pride.

“We are not against homosexuals,” said Karlis Dumbris of the radical National Front.  “They can do whatever they want — but we are against them spreading propaganda about their lifestyle.”

Around 60 people were at Tuesday’s protest, demanding that the Pride be banned.

This year, police have tightened their security plans for the march on Sunday which organisers predict will be attended by about 400, including activists from Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, UK as well as from the European Parliament.

Viacheslau Bortnik from Amnesty International Belarus will be in Riga — and Nikolai Alekseev, one of the organisers and chief spokesperson of last weekend’s Moscow Pride, is hoping to be in Riga.

“The problem of getting Nikolai here is with the procedures at the Latvian Embassy in Moscow and if we can get them to speed up the visa processing process,” a Mozaika spokesperson said.

“After last weekend’s events in Moscow, if he is able to get here, Nikolai will get a hero's welcome from the gay community.”

 
■ Linda Freimane, a board member of Mozaika, is interviewed by television.
 

Last year, officials banned the gay Pride parade.  But indoor events went ahead, the No Pride protesters showed up and pelted participants with  animal excrement and eggs. The pervious year , No Pride supporters tried to physically block the path of the parade.

But this year, with a new Mayor, the situation is different.

 “I think things will be different this year because police are being very cooperative and they understand that they need to protect us," Mozaika board member Linda Freimane told Jörgen Rasmussen of Reuters

Privately, some, including the police, are concerned that the events in Moscow last weekend might have given the anti-gay factions added impetus to cause as much disruption as possible.

■ For programme of events (in English), please visit the Mozaika website.

SEE ALSO

UK and Sweden Show Official Support for Riga Gay Pride Support for Riga Friendship Days and Gay Pride has come today from the British Ambassador, the Chief of Staff of the Swedish Navy and an MEP — all hoping for a “celebration’ when the main event, the parade, takes place in Vermanes Park on Sunday. (UK Gay News, June 1, 2007)

Draft of Proposed Partnership Law to Include Gays Will Be Launched Friday at Riga Pride.  A draft new partnership law will a unveiled on Friday at a Riga Friendship Days and Gay Pride seminar. (UK Gay News, May 29, 2007)

Swedish Government Minister to Attend Riga Gay Pride A government minister is to head a delegation of more than 70 people from Sweden to the Riga Friendship Days and Gay Pride, which gets underway on Thursday May 31.  (UK Gay News, May 24, 2007)

Catholic Cardinal Calls Gays ‘Prostitutes’ in Latvian Outburst With less than four weeks to go before the start of Riga Pride and Friendship Days, Cardinal Jānis Pujāts, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Latvia, has defined  homosexuality as a “total corruption in the sexual arena” an “unnatural form of prostitution” and calls on the government to protect “the values of the traditional family against the licentiousness of homosexuals” in a letter published by a Latvian newspaper.  (UK Gay News, May 10, 2007)

 
■ The No Pride group have been fly-posting throughout Riga, including on the street litter bins.
 

 
     

Posted: 31 May 2007 at 16:30 UK time

 

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