Riga Pride gets more international support

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Human rights campaigners from across Europe are to attend next month’s Riga Pride.

Last year the march was attacked and missiles and human excrement were thrown at participants.

Gay and lesbian protesters were refused permission to march in Riga on the 22nd July 2006 by city officials, who cited security advice from the interior ministry.

A group of around 50 activists held a service of tolerance at a local Anglican church.

A gang of neo-Nazi skinheads, ultra-nationalists and members of the Orthodox church besieged the church, pelting the activists with excrement. A larger group protested outside an indoor Pride event in Riga.

Amnesty International has announced that between 50 and 100 of its members from eleven countries will take part in this year’s Riga Pride on 3rd June.

A delegation of Swedish MPs and MEPs from across the political spectrum are also expected to march.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has pledged his support for the Riga Pride event, and London Pride has twinned with Riga as a show of solidarity.

Last week an open letter from Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop of Riga, called on crowds of people to take to the streets of Riga to oppose Pride.

“If there are 1,000 sexually crazy people acting foolishly in the square of Pride, then the people’s march in Riga should have at least 40,000 or 50,000,” he wrote.

“That proportion would give the government and public thought enough reason to leave sexual perversion outside the law.”

The Roman Catholic leader recommends holding the “provocative demonstration (Pride), in a location that is closed and limited some way – a garden or square.”

The new Mayor of the Latvian capital has publicly backed the 2007 gay rights march in the city.