Current Affairs

Gay rights organisation publishes Pride opposition report

Gemma Pritchard August 29, 2007
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International LGBT rights group ILGA-Europe has published an in-depth report on opposition to Pride events throughout Europe.

The updated version of their report, Freedom of Assembly -Diary of Events by Country, sets out a detailed history of events from 2000 onwards in 11 European countries where LGBT events have faced problems, including Croatia, Poland, Estonia, Turkey and Russia, where the first Moscow Pride was banned last year.

The report also lists 12 key types of event that constitute opposition to LGBT people’s freedom of assembly, including pride marches being banned, violence against demonstrators, failure by the police to protect demonstrators and failure by courts to uphold freedom of assembly.

It aims to provide a detailed understanding of the kind of problems faced by pride organisers, and also some of the positive developments that have taken place over the last seven years.

ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). The organisation has drawn a number of conclusions from its findings.

According to ILGA-Europe, in most countries it examined, particularly those in the EU, a fairly rapid progress towards recognising the right of the LGBT community to freedom of assembly is possible, so long as the community receives support from the courts and international parliaments.

The report also states that attempts to establish the right to freedom of assembly in a particular country for the first time are almost invariably opposed by city authorities.

As there are still many countries in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe where there have been no Pride events, national and international campaigns to support LGBT freedom of assembly are likely to continue for many years.

Where LGBT marches are permitted, where politicians and faith leaders avoid inflammatory language, and where the police provide proper protection, it was found that violent opposition to LGBT events is greatly reduced, demonstrating that the public order arguments used by some authorities in justifying the banning of marches is invalid.

However, even in cities where a good track record of peaceful events has been established, a recurrence of violence cannot be ruled out, underlining the need for continual vigilance by organisers, city authorities and the police.

The report will be used, amongst other things, as input to the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which is currently preparing a report on LGBT freedom of assembly.

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