Gay pride protesters detained

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Latvian authorities have detained 14 people relating to the attacks on gay campaigners in the Latvian capital Riga on Saturday during the gay pride festival.

National Police spokeswoman Sintija Kajina told the Baltic News Service that 13 of the detainees face administrative charges, while a criminal proceeding will be started against one person who was detained.

The charges stem from an attack on gays and lesbians who attended a service at the Anglican Church in Riga as part of the Friendship Days festival held last week.

An angry crowd threw tomatoes, eggs, and excrement at people entering the church service. Later, they threw eggs and splashed water on a taxi in which Swedish participants of the Latvian gay festival were travelling to the airport. The taxi was chased on its way to the airport, and attempts were made to push it off the road.

Authorities in the Latvian capital had banned the gay parade on public order grounds, but activists including Outrage’s Peter Tatchell and GayRussia’s Nikolai Alexeyev decided to continue with smaller activities.

Mr Alexeyev, who was arrested at last May’s Moscow Gay Pride, said: “It is astonishing. It’s worse than Moscow. There is total chaos here. The police seem very weak and disorganised. The fascists are able to act at will. And Latvia is in the European Union.

“The police presence outside the Reval Latvia Hotel, where a press conference and alternative event to the banned Pride march is being staged, is symbolic. Small and inadequate. We are under siege by a mob of some 70 fascists.”

Mr Tatchell said: “People attending the press conference had to be rushed out into waiting vans to be ferried away from the baying homophobic crowd.

“The church service held in support of Riga Gay Pride was attacked by a dozen neo-Nazis. Worshippers were pelted with sh*t and rotten fruit.

“Despite previously requesting police protection, no police were present to protect the congregation. Dutch MEP Sophie In’t Veld was one of the worshippers prevented from leaving the church by the homophobic vigilantes.

“The inaction of the Latvian police is scandalous. They seem to be doing the absolute minimum.”

The municipal authorities in Riga were told that the event would be cancelled to avoid public disorder after Christians, nationalists and neo-Nazis threatened the parade with violence and a counter march.

Recent pride marches in Moscow, Bucharest and Warsaw have also been met with protest from similar groups.

Last month, the European Union passed a resolution to combat homophobia on the continent.