Police finally authorise Estonian Pride

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After gay rights advocates protested to Estonia’s President and Prime Minister, police in the capital Tallinn have finally ruled that a Pride march can go ahead.

The event, on August 11th, has been beset by problems with policing.

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

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.

The press service of the Estonian police told Interfax earlier this month:

“Considering the problems of last year and possible threats involved in holding the event, the prefecture has advised that the organisers should find a place more suitable for it.

“Since the participants in the parade are many, holding it may disturb the constitutional rights of other citizens to walk the narrow streets of the city.”

Now Pride organisers have agreed to hire security guards as instructed by the police, despite their assurances that the marchers will not cause trouble and that it is the job of the police to ensure LGBT people’s right to freedom of assembly.

Pride spokeswomen Lisette Kampus commented:

“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.”

The parade, the grand finale of the week-long gay culture festival, is to be held under the Council of Europe slogan of ALL DIFFERENT, ALL EQUAL.

MPs from Finland and Sweden will join MEPs from the European Parliament’s Intergroup at Tallinn Pride.

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