Current Affairs

Swede donates TV fee to Riga Pride

PinkNews Staff Writer April 6, 2007
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One of Sweden’s most distinguished diplomats has donated his fee from presenting a gay TV series to Riga Pride.

Sverker Åström, 88, is a former Swedish diplomat, ambassador and State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Four years ago he came out in a newspaper interview.

He revealed that all Swedish Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers he worked with knew about his homosexuality as a precaution against any possibility of blackmail against him.

Last year Sverker Åström took part in the TV show Böglobbyn, which he later criticised for not being serious enough and enforcing stereotypes about gay people.

He has decided to donate his £2,180 fee to Stockholm Pride and RFSL (Swedish national LGBT rights organisation) with the condition that half of this money will be given to the organisers of the Friendship Days/Riga Pride 2007 and the other half used towards improving the rights of LGBT people in Eastern Europe.

“With this donation I want to help LGBT people in Eastern Europe who are facing a difficult situation” said Sverker Åström.

Gay men and lesbians were refused permission to march in Riga on 22nd July last year by city officials, who cited security advice from the interior ministry.

A group of around 50 activists instead held a service of tolerance at a local Anglican church.

Under the auspices of a “No Pride” movement hundreds of neo-Nazi skinheads, ultra-nationalists and members of the Orthodox church besieged the church, pelting the activists with excrement.

It was reported that local police stood and watched as events unfolded and declined to intervene.

Pride London and the Mayor of London have signed a statement of unity with Riga Pride 2007 at a ceremony in the Latvian capital.

During his long career Sverker Åström, among other duties, was Sweden’s ambassador to France, led Sweden’s negotiations team during the signature of the EC treaty, and was Sweden’s ambassador to the UN.

One of his greatest achievements was an initiative to organise a large scale UN conference on environmental issues in 1968, thus initiating the development of the UN policy on environmental protection.

Ulrika Westerlund, chairperson of Stockholm Pride, said: “We are glad that through our solidarity fund we can provide even greater support our sister organisation in Latvia.”

Kristine Garina, chairperson of Latvian gay rights organisation Mozaika, thanked Mr Åström, RFSL and Stockholm Pride for their trust and promised that the donation will be used wisely.

Riga Pride 2007 will be held from 30th May to 3rd June.

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