A group of MPs from the Latvia First Party, referred to as the “party of priests,” has attacked what it calls the “gross interference of a homosexual group of European Parliament members into Latvia’s internal affairs.”

In a statement, the ultra-religious MPs make lurid statements about “homosexuality’s purposeful propaganda” and described Pride events as “bomb explosion with poisonous gases.”

The six members of the Saeima were responding to a complaint from the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights about Latvia’s Roman Catholic leader.

Latvia First is in an electoral pact with the Latvian Way party and together they have ten of the 100 seats in the Saeima. They are minor partners in the country’s coalition government.

In the run up to last weekend’s Riga Pride, Cardinal Janis Pujats said homosexuality is against the natural order and, therefore, against the laws of God, and that homosexuals also claim unlawfully to have the rights of a minority.

The MEPs said his comments showed “a blatant disregard for human rights as expressed in the European Convention of Human Rights” and “an appalling and worrying ignorance of EU treaties and legislation.”

The Latvia First MPs have now counter-attacked.

“We, members of the 9th Saeima of the Republic of Latvia, denounce the attacks by the homosexual group of European Parliament members who are trying to limit our freedom of speech and our religious convictions.

“Church representatives and other supporters of traditional family values stand against the forcing of the mistaken idea that homosexuality is normal upon society, against the legal equalisation of homosexual rights and the natural family model, and against the challenging demonstration of homosexuals and immoral and hooligan behaviours.”

Saturday’s Pride event passed off without violence, but more than 400 protesters took to the streets, compared to 300 Pride participants.

The Pride controversy has been marked by incendiary language from nationalists, religious people and the Latvian press.

“A homosexual march is not an innocent and colourful rainbow,” said the Latvia First MPs.

“It is a bomb explosion with poisonous gases which people will breathe long after the event itself. People will not even notice how they poison and change their minds and their bodies.

“In those countries into which the homosexual ideology has been brought, the words Mother and Father have disappeared.

“Societies are afraid to state their convictions about homosexuality, because that leads to punishment.

“Several clergymen have been imprisoned and political have paid major monetary fines just because they wish to live with their conscience.

“People are forced to sacrifice their family values and traditions. Does Latvia wish to choose this path?”

Latvia joined the EU in 2004.