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LATVIA

Lawmaker’s Assistant Convicted of Throwing Faeces at Riga Gay Pride

 

Case links Latvia First Party to New Generation Church
 

 


 



 

 
■ Riga Pride 2006:  Police arrest a demonstrator against Pride outside the building where the press conference was being staged.
 

RIGA, January 15, 2008  –  An assistant to one of the members of the Latvian Saeima (Parliament) was found guilty today in a criminal case of “hooliganism” during the Riga Gay Pride in 2006 when participants had excrement thrown at them.

Janis Dzelme, a 32-years old married man with two young children, was sentenced to 100 hours of “compulsory labour” by the Vidzeme District Court of the city of Riga for “gross public disorderliness as manifested in an obvious lack of respect toward the public by ignoring universally accepted norms of behaviour”.

He works in the Saeima for Dainis Turlais of the Latvia First Party (LLP) and is a member of the New Generation Church, a homophobic Christian sect based in Riga with branches world-wide.

The court ruled that on July 22, 2006, Dzelme attended an authorized anti-demonstration in Alberta Street where Mozaika, an organisation for LGBT people and their friends, was organising a press conference about the fact that the Riga City Council had denied permission for a pride parade.

The court also found that during that event, Dzelme threw a plastic bag containing a “stinking substance” at the car of a Mozaika member.

Dzelme, who is close to the LPP, denied his guilt, but he did confirm that he was at the location, saying that he went there to "protest against gay propaganda."

Some 20 members of the New Generation Church, including leader Aleksey Ledyayev, were in court to hear the verdict and sentence.

“This is an enormously important precedent which will send very strong signals to those people in Latvia who believe that freedom of assembly and freedom of speech should be limited with violence,” said the chairman of Mozaika Kristine Garina after the case.

“Let them understand that such behaviour will have serious consequences,” she continued.

“The attack against homosexuals and their supporters is a hate crime against a specific group in society, and that is why it must be seen as a very serious violation.

“We are very pleased that both the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the court agree with us.  Today we can feel safer and more equal than we did in the summer of 2006.”

Mr. Turlais is one of the most homophobic lawmakers in the Saeima.  He has called gays “bacteria” and “pigs”.  The LPP is noted for its homophobic stance in Latvian politics.

In today’s trial, the prosecutor asked for a fine of 1,600 Ls (about $US3,400). But the sentence of 100 hours compulsory labour is widely seen as a more severe penalty.

Mr. Ledyayev and the New Generation Church are part of the Watchmen on the Walls group – a particularly homophobic group which includes among it members the Americans Scott Lively, co-author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuals and the Nazi Party, and former NFL player Ken Hutcherson.  Both have been in Riga in the past year – last March, Hutcherson, who runs the Antioch Bible Church near Seattle, told members of the Saeima that he was a special representative of President Bush.  The White House strongly denied that any such appointment was made, but Hutcherson maintained that he had video evidence – though he has so far failed to make this available.

■ Another court hearing concerning Riga Friendship Days and Gay Pride events is expected this week.  On Thursday, a resident of Riga and his 15 year old son are due to face charges of throwing explosives at a group of people who were leaving the Vermanes Park after the 2007 “march for equality”.

■ Mr. Ledyayev is due to travel to the United States later this month to speak at the “Synergy Pastors Conference” in Mount Paran Church, Atlanta between January 29 and 31.

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Posted: 15 January 2008 at 14:00 (UK time)

 

 


 

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