A leading human rights group is calling on governments in Europe to secure the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Amnesty International has produced a report on the problems Pride events have faced in many new EU countries as well as Russia.
“Equality before the law with no discrimination is the message that gay rights activists take to the streets,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“Yet more often than not they are prevented from doing so in safety.”
Amnesty campaigns for the rights of LGBT people to be free from physical and verbal attacks and threats, free to assemble and organise events and adequately protected by law enforcement officials.
Among the examples of discrimination and violence faced by Pride events:
– The Gay Pride march in Riga in 2005 was initially banned and then took place without adequate police protection. The 2006 march was banned and the authorities failed yet again to provide adequate police protection for the participants of an indoors meeting.
– For the third year running this May, the Moscow city authorities have denied gay and lesbian activists permission to march. Appeals against the earlier bans are pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
– In Croatia, groups will hold pride events in Zagreb at the end of June. In 2006 and 2007, even though the police officers assigned outnumbered the demonstrators by nearly two to one, they could not protect them from attacks during and after the marches.
– In 2007, the mayor of Vilnius refused to give permission for an EU-sponsored anti-discrimination truck tour as part of a ‘For Diversity. Against Discrimination’ information campaign to make its planned stop in the capital of Lithuania. The Vilnius City Council also voted unanimously to ban a tolerance campaign rally in support of human rights of various groups, including the rights of lesbians and gay men. The European Commission criticised the bans.
– Polish courts and the European Court of Human Rights found bans on pride events in Polish cities to be unlawful. The 2007 Warsaw parade drew a record 5,000 supporters and little protest, and a smaller march in Krakow went forward without major incident.
– Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Moldova, and Serbia were among 54 states that, in 2006, signed up to a statement at the UN Human Rights Council expressing “deep concern at these ongoing human rights violations [against lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people]. The principles of universality and non-discrimination require that these issues be addressed.”
– On 11 May, 60 would-be participants sought to travel to the Moldovan capital in defiance of a ban a pride march – the sixth time such a ban had been imposed. There, at least three times as many protesters surrounded their bus, forced open the doors, and seized their banners and flags while police watched from half a dozen patrol cars parked nearby.
“Regardless of the obstacles thrown in their way, lesbian and gay activists are claiming their human rights. It is the duty of governments to deliver on their obligations,” Ms Duckworth said.