Almost 600 March in Riga’s Peaceful Gay Pride

Well-known anti-gay spokesperson allowed by organisers to lead the march



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■ Well-known anti-gay spokeswoman Liga Dimitere does her “dying swan” routine towards the end of the parade.  She had led the parade for most of the route.
Photo: UK Gay News


RIGA, May 17, 2009  – Just under 600 people took part in the first Baltic Pride march staged yesterday in the Latvian capital.  There were no problems – and no reported arrests.

The area around Vērmaņdārzs Park in the city centre was sealed-off by police and security was tight for those who wanted to take part and gain entry to the park.  The entire police operation to provide a secure environment for all was handled well, and in a good-humoured way.

Angry anti-gay protestors gathered outside the park is a special area cordoned-off by the police, who allowed the counter demonstration to go ahead.

“It is only right that those against us should be allowed to express their views,” commented Juris Lavrikovs, a Latvian activist.

Liga Klavina, a member of Mozaika, said LGBT Latvians continued to face discrimination in their daily lives.

We face discrimination everywhere. We don’t have any rights.  I don’t have any rights.  Why,” she asked?

The Mayor of Riga, Janis Birks issued a statement on the eve of the march saying that people in the city “need to learn to live together despite their differences”.

This statement was welcomed by Martin K.I. Christensen, the co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s executive board, who was in Riga for the Pride.

“We are delighted that the Baltic Pride March took place peacefully and with no incidents,” he said.

“This is the first time the participants of a Pride event in Riga were able to leave the venue not by police buses but by foot and no one was harassed or attacked.

“However, seeing posters calling for LGBT people to be exterminated in gas chambers is a chilling reminder of the extent to which homophobia and hatred exist in Latvia and many other countries in Europe.”

One of the remarkable aspects of the march was that anti-gay activist Liga Dimitere, the wife of Kaspars Dimiters, the well-known Latvian song writer, singer and blogger, was allowed by Pride organisers to lead the parade.

Dressed as a nun, Ms. Dimitere walked backwards along the entire route – and remained silent throughout.

It was only towards the end of the march, in Elizabetes street, that she did, as one observer put it, her “dying swan” routine and laid down prone at the side of the street.

The Latvian media saw this as an attempt to disrupt the march.  But this was hardly the case as there was more than enough room for the parade to pass.

Madle Saluveer, a member the Estonian Gay League, commented that she did not feel threatened by the protestors, but she did find it difficult to understand the level of hatred shown to gay people in Latvia.

It’s hard to believe there is so much hate out there when there is so much love in here,” she said.

Taking part in the march were people from around 15 different countries, in addition to the three Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

They came from as far apart as the Faroe Islands to Turkey, arranged by Amnesty International.

Five representatives from Pride London, which is ‘twinned’ with Riga Pride, also took part in the march.

■ Lambdainstabul members travelled from Turkey to attend Baltic Gay Pride.
Photo: UK Gay News


Danish Ambassador Praises Latvian Courts at Baltic Gay Pride Reception The legal system in Latvia has proved today that the rule of law is well established – and that the human rights of everybody are – and must be – respected, the Danish Ambassador, Uffe Wolffhechel, said this evening.  (UK Gay News, May 15, 2009)

Judge OKs Baltic Gay Pride in Riga in Eleventh Hour Court Decision.  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.  (UK Gay News, May 15, 2009)

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: 17 May 2009 at 12:00 (UK time)


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