An official in the city of Rīga, Latvia, has called for religious groups to ‘ignore’ the city’s upcoming gay and lesbian march, saying that scant attention may dissuade organisers from holding future events.

Andris Grīnbergs, the executive director of Rīga, told a meeting of a working group of the assembly of Christian congregations in the city that representatives of the various denominations should ignore the lesbian and gay march that is planned for Rīga in May.

This year’s event will be the first Baltic Gay Pride – officially titled Baltic Friendship Days – which joins the LGBT communities of the three Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It is scheduled to run from the 15-17th of May.

Father Jānis Sičevskis, a representative of the Latvian Orthodox Church, told news agency LETA that the church objects to the march, particularly if it takes place near a church. It is planned that the church will hold a special prayer service to pray that people do not take part in the event. “We have asked the Rīga City Council to do everything possible to ensure that the march does not take place after all,” he said.

The Latvian LGBT advocacy group Mozaīka applied for the parade to the Riga City Council last October. Two routes were suggested, both starting and finishing at Vērmaņdārzs Park.

However, an anti-gay group, Fund for the Family, has applied to hold a ‘family celebration’ event in the park on May 16th. Riga City Council will shortly be making a decision on permission for the two proposed events.