Latvia urged to protect EuroPride participants against violence
Amnesty International has urged the Latvian government to commit to protect the participants of this year’s EuroPride.
The event will take place on 20 June in Riga, and despite organisers saying authorities have been cooperative, the government has not been openly supportive.
Last December, Latvian President Andris Berzins said: “Homosexuality should not be advertised and imposed”.
Activists from Amnesty International around the world will join revellers at EuroPride, which takes place after a week of celebrations starting on 15 June.
“It is disturbing to see the Latvian government’s evident discomfort at hosting EuroPride. Instead of welcoming an event meant to champion openness and tolerance, Latvia’s leaders seem to be turning their backs on it. As the country holding the presidency of the European Union, Latvia should be leading by example in the fight against homophobic discrimination,” said Lucy Freeman, Director of Amnesty International’s Gender, Sexual and Identity Programme.
“With homophobic violence a clear and present danger for activists in post-Soviet states, this week’s EuroPride will hopefully send a message that progress is possible and deep-seated discrimination can be uprooted and replaced with tolerance,” Freeman continued.
“The sad fact is the majority of Latvian society is against EuroPride and advancing LGBTI rights remains a struggle: same-sex couples are invisible for the government, homophobic hate crimes are not recognised and high-level politicians employ vicious homophobic rhetoric,” said Kaspars Zalitis, a board member of Mozaika, the Latvian group organising EuroPride 2015.
Previous pride events in Latvia have been met with hostility.
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In 2005, a national pride march in Riga was marred by violent homophobic attacks.