MEPs to attend Pride in Estonia

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A year after violent homophobic attacks against Tallinn Pride, organisers have revealed that politicians from across Europe will be turning up this year to show their support.

Last year LGBT marchers were attacked with sticks and stones by a group of young Estonian nationalists, while celebrating the country’s gay third pride event.

This year’s event, on August 11th, has been beset by problems with policing.

Officials want to change the route of the march through the Old Town, claiming that it will infringe the rights of other Tallinn residents to go about their business.

The Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights in the European Parliament has called on the Estonian authorities to facilitate the organisation of Tallinn Pride 2007 in line with the Estonian Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights.

“We remind the authorities, as we did so earlier this year, that it is part of their responsibilities as EU member states to do all they can to facilitate the organisation of these marches in favour of tolerance,” said Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup and MEP for the West Midlands.

“The Human Rights Court in Strasbourg has already ruled that the banning or hindrance of these Pride marches is a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights.

“We hope the Estonian authorities will bear this in mind when considering whether or not to give the green light to the Talinn Pride organisers,” he added.

MPs from Finland and Sweden will join MEPs from the Intergroup at Tallinn Pride.

In response to the police attitude towards the march, Pride spokeswoman Lisette Kampus said:

“We can not, should not and will not take responsibility for the actions of the people other than the participants.

“If this year someone from the audience on the streets decides to throw stones, eggs, or hit someone in the parade, they are committing a crime and are therefore subject to a punishment.

The police have an obligation to protect the public order and safety of the citizens.”

Sophie in’t Veld, Vice-President of the Intergroup, will march in Tallinn Pride.

She commented:

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“The European Year of Equal Opportunities for All should be seen as an opportunity for all Estonians to better understand what it is to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

“If there is one message to be taken from this European Year, it is precisely that these Pride and Equality Marches are themselves the embodiment of a Europe of tolerance and diversity.”

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