The LGBT communities of London and Riga are to come together in a unique twinning partnership to support equality and tolerance in both capital cities.
Pride London representatives are due to sign a statement of unity with Riga Pride in the Latvian capital later this month.
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has given his backing to the Riga event, which last year was attacked by protestors:
“As Mayor, I am pleased to support the Pride event in London each year.
“It is a fundamental democratic right of gays and lesbians to peacefully hold events and demonstrate in Latvia as everywhere,” he said.
Some thirty or so gays and lesbians marched through the centre of Riga last July.
Hundreds of Neo-Nazi, Christian fundamentalist and extreme nationalist protesters hurled rotten eggs and bags of human excrement at the parade and several gay rights activists were arrested by the police.
Riga Pride 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.
Chair of Pride London Paul Birrell said:
“The contrast between London and Riga last year could not have been starker.
“London was the venue for Europe’s largest gay and lesbian festival with record crowds and a vivid demonstration of the capital’s commitment to tolerance and diversity.
“Meanwhile the brave men and women of Latvia’s gay and lesbian community, our fellow European Union citizens, were subjected to brutality and an appalling breach of their human rights in scenes that shocked the world.
“The new twinning partnership is the first step to bringing this unacceptable situation to an end, and supporting the human rights of everyone in Europe to live in freedom without fear of violence and abuse.”
Riga Pride organisers have urged British people to travel to the Latvian capital for the festival to show support for gay rights.
Chair of Riga Pride Kristine Garina said,
“We are delighted to twin with London and hope that this will have a real impact on the overt homophobia in our city.
“Riga Pride and Pride London hope that as many people as possible will travel to the beautiful city of Riga to help us celebrate our Pride festival from 30 May to 2 June.”