Baltic Pride march in Latvia under threat
A lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride march planned to take place this weekend in Riga, Latvia has been thrown into doubt after local councillors attempted to veto it. Amnesty International has called on the Latvian authorities to ensure that the planned Baltic Pride event on Saturday 16 May is allowed to take place. Permission was granted for the march, organized by the Latvian organization Mozaika, the Lithuanian Gay League, and Estonian Gay Youth,– by Riga City Council on 8 May 2009. In response to security concerns, relating to possible conflicts with counter-demonstrators, it was agreed that the march could take place in Vermandarzs Park and a few surrounding streets. On Wednesday, a majority of Riga’s City Council members signed an open letter to the Executive Director of the City Council, Andris Grinbergs, calling on him to revoke permission for the march on the grounds that it was offensive to public decency and posed a threat to public security. The Council members stated that if the Executive Director did not revoke permission by 4pm on 14 May, they would seek to overrule the decision through a vote in the City Council. “Banning the march would be unlawful under Latvian law,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Director of the Europe and Central Asia programme. “It would also violate the rights of Baltic LGBT people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. “ Amnesty International has called on the Latvian authorities to ensure that the Baltic Pride event is allowed to take place under the originally agreed conditions and to ensure that marchers are provided with the necessary protection against the threat of violent disruption by counter-demonstrators. More than seventy Amnesty International activists from 23 European countries will be travelling to Riga to take part in the march and express their solidarity with LGBT people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.