This weekend’s gay pride march in Latvia has been banned amid threats of violence from extremist groups.
The municipal authorities in the capital Riga were told yesterday that the event would be cancelled to avoid public disorder after Christians, nationalists and neo-Nazis threatened the parade with violence and a counter march.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of gay group OutRage had intended to 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.”
“It echoes the bad old days of Soviet tyranny.
“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 after 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.
Recently the Latvian Parliament defied European Union laws after refusing to implement anti-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation
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.