Gay men and women held the first gay pride with no sign of violence in Riga yesterday.

Five hundred people gathered in the Latvian capital, in a fenced park with tight security provided by the police.

Small groups of anti-gay protestors hurled insults, but no violence took place, and two people were arrested for the verbal abuse.

Spanish European parliament member Raul Romeva told Reuters: “The fact we can organise this march this year shows there has been an improvement even if we have to do it in a park.”

Politicians from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the European parliament joined the march.

The marchers brandished placards saying: “Love is a human right,” “Equality is a human right,” and “No to hatred, we love Latvia.”

On Friday, Mayor of London Ken Livingstone issued a message of support on PinkNews.

He said: “I welcome the statement in March 2007 by the new Mayor of Riga, Janis Birks, that he is “ashamed” of the attacks on last year’s Gay Pride march in Latvia in which demonstrators were abused, physically assaulted and had excrement, bottles and eggs thrown at them.

“In November 2006 the Latvian Constitutional Court ruled that the ban on the 2006 Riga Pride was illegal.”

He added: “If homophobia and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people remains strong, the positive impact of high profile Gay Pride marches is extremely important.”

A survey of LGBT people in Latvia in February 2007 found that 82% of respondents were not in favour of holding the planned Riga Pride parade, while only 7% felt that these events would help promote tolerance against sexual minorities.

On May 27th, a gay parade in Moscow was marred by violence and Green MP candidate Peter Tatchell was attacked.