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June 8, 2007
SGN.org
Volume 35
Issue 23
 
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Religious Coalition for Equality seeks Executive Director
 
Latvia Gay pride finally goes smoothly
Latvia Gay pride finally goes smoothly
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Third time's a charm. Gay pride in Riga, Latvia, finally went smoothly this year on June 3.

In 2005, the first year, 150 marchers were heavily outnumbered by around 1,000 anti-Gay protesters who hurled insults, bottles and rotten eggs; blocked the streets; and forced the parade to be rerouted. The protesters chanted "No sodomy" and "Gays fuck the nation."

In 2006, the City Council banned the parade, so organizers held a religious service at a church and meetings at a hotel. The attendees were attacked by Christian, ultranationalist and neo-Nazi protesters who pelted them with eggs, rotten food and feces.

This year, armed with a court ruling that the 2006 ban was unconstitutional, more than 500 GLBT people marched around a fenced-in park under very heavy police protection, dodging only a paint-bomb, an ice-cream cone and a few firecrackers.

City police and riot police outnumbered both the pride marchers and the approximately 100 jeering anti-Gay demonstrators. Interior Minister Ivars Godmanis directed the officers' response from a vantage point on a nearby balcony.

Marchers included Sweden's migration affairs minister, six Swedish MPs, a Danish MP, a German MP, three members of the European Parliament, scores of Swedish activists, a large multinational contingent from Amnesty International, and Gay cops from Britain and Sweden.

"It is important to remember that social attitudes do not change overnight," Linda Freimane of the organizing group, MozaƮka, said before the parade. "If we don't [march] this year then we give in to the illegal, violent forces who can limit other people's rights just by smothering them."

Other pride-week events included concerts, movies, presentations and exhibits.

At the same time as the parade, more than 1,000 people attended a "World Against Homosexuality" concert in another part of town. Many attendees signed an anti-Gay petition and were rewarded with a T-shirt showing two male stick figures engaging in rear-entry anal sex with the international circle-and-slash "no" symbol superimposed on top of them.



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