Latvian authorities are considering cancelling this weekend’s Latvia’s Gay Pride in the capital of Riga amid threats of violence from Christians, nationalists and neo-Nazis.
Responding to these homophobic threats, the Latvian authorities are threatening to ban the Riga Pride march on public order grounds, claiming it is the “biggest security risk” since Latvia won its independence from the USSR.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage! will join Saturday’s march in solidarity with Latvia’s beleaguered but defiant lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities.
He said: “It is scandalous that a member state of the EU is giving in to threats and blackmail by religious fundamentalists and the far right.”
He was commenting on the failure of the Latvian authorities to issue a march permit to the Riga Pride organisers.
“It echoes the bad old days of Soviet tyranny,” added Mr Tatchell.
“The government of Latvia has a duty to resist threats of homophobic violence, protect its gay citizens and safeguard the right to peaceful protest.
“Riga Pride is a litmus test of Latvian democracy,” he said.
Latvian police arrested a number of protesters at last year’s parade in the country.
Some thirty or so gays and lesbians marched through the centre of Riga. However, hundreds of demonstrators including some from the far right lined their route.
Protestors hurled rotten eggs and insults into the parade and several of them were arrested by the police.
The celebration of gay rights had previously been cancelled by the city’s Chief Executive, Erik Shkapars but the decision was over turned by a local judge who issued a order forcing the city to allow the march to take place.
The judge claimed that banning the march would be a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights of which Latvia is a signatory to.
Last month, the European Union passed a resolution to combat homophobia on the continent which would see sentences handed down for homophobic, anti Semitic, and Islamophobic offences.
Gay activists in Moscow were attacked last May after the Russian gay pride was banned and attendees of the Warsaw and Bucharest gay pride were threatened with violence.