Riga changes policy, will now allow gay couples free bus travel on Valentine’s
Gay couples will be included in an offer of free bus travel on Valentine’s Day, Riga’s bus operator has announced.
LGBT organisations condemned the offer, saying it was discriminatory, as the company Rigas Mikroautobusu Satiksme (RMS) said it was only open to male-female couples.
Mozaika, a Latvian LGBT rights group, said it was going to go to the country’s ombudsman with a discrimination complaint.
LSM.LV reported that Maija Lazdiņa, the spokeswoman for RMS said: “The initiative is only meant to support relationships established as traditional.”
But Lazdina, has clarified, and said there was a “big misunderstanding”, and that after a call by the member of the press, there was a confusion.
She said (translated from Latvian): “I can confirm that the press release, sent out to the media, did not even mention the word ‘heterosexual’, much as discrimination against people with non-traditional sexual orientation.
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“To my knowledge, distorted information was released after a journalist called in relation to the release – this was interpreted wrong by the media,” explains RMS PR Manager Maija Lazdiņa.
Mozaika had said the free rides are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, and that they are illegal.
Turning to Latvia’s consumer protection laws, the group also insisted that women are put at a disadvantage as there are more men than women in the city.
“Examples like this, when discrimination can be seen with the naked eye in the society are no longer to be ignored,” the head of Mozaīka, Kristīne Garina said.
RMS has run the minibus routes in Riga since 2013, and is the sub-contractor of the Rīgas Satiksme municipal public transportation company.