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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August,2 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 31
Riot police intervene to protect Baltic Pride - Parade participants pelted with eggs by anti-Gay protesters
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Riot police intervene to protect Baltic Pride - Parade participants pelted with eggs by anti-Gay protesters

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Baltic Pride went on as scheduled in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 27, protected by a phalanx of Lithuanian riot police.

According to the Associated Press, "hundreds' of Pride marchers took to the streets, waving Lithuania's yellow, green, and red flag along with rainbow flags. They were attacked by hundreds of anti-Gay rioters, who showered the Pride march with eggs.

Among those hit were Lithuanian parliament member Giedre Purvaneckiene and Sweden's European Union Affairs Minister, Birgitta Ohlsson, who were standing at the front of the parade along with other dignitaries.

"It shows that we need to march until eggs aren't thrown anymore and people can march freely and without fear," said Purvaneckiene, who was not injured.

RIGHTIST LEADER ARRESTED
Riot police intervened to protect the Pride march, and arrested 28 anti-Gay protesters. Among them was Petras Grazulis, a right-wing anti-Gay lawmaker who rallied his followers with a bullhorn. Grazulis was thrown face-down on the ground and carried off in handcuffs by the police, only to reappear later after being released from custody.

About 50 rioters tried to storm a stage where LGBT activists were scheduled to speak, but they were pushed back by police. Police said one officer was injured in the fighting.

Vilnius city authorities initially refused permits for Baltic Pride, saying they feared it would provoke disorder, but they were overruled by a local court.

Baltic Pride is an annual event, and the venue alternates between the capitals of the three Baltic countries - Vilnius, Lithuania; Tallinn, Estonia; and Riga, Latvia. Titled "March for Equality," this year's Baltic Pride is only the second such event for Lithuania, a predominantly Catholic nation of about three million people.

Like Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union until the U.S.S.R. dissolved in 1991. As a member of the E.U., Lithuania is required to protect its LGBT residents, but activists charge that the government has not done enough to ensure LGBT rights.

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