Aide to Latvian MP convicted of Pride attack

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A 32-year-old man who works as an aide to a homophobic Latvian MP has been convicted of “gross public disorderliness” during Riga Pride in 2006.

Janis Dzelme is an assistant to the Latvia First Party MP Dainis Turlais.

The court found that he threw a bag of excrement at the car of a gay rights activist.

He was sentenced to 100 hours of compulsory labour, viewed as a tough sentence. Prosecutors had asked for him to be fined.

Latvian LGBT organisation Mozaika’s chairman Kristine Garina said:

“This is an enormously important precedent which will send very strong signals to those people in Latvia who believe that freedom of assembly and freedom of speech should be limited with violence.

“Let them understand that such behaviour will have serious consequences.

“The attack against homosexuals and their supporters is a hate crime against a specific group in society, and that is why it must be seen as a very serious violation.

“We are very pleased that both the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the court agree with us.

“Today we can feel safer and more equal than we did in the summer of 2006.”

In 2006 gay campaigners were attacked with eggs and bags of excrement and left feeling under siege by protesters when they quietly celebrated Riga Pride.

Authorities in the Latvian capital had banned the gay parade on public order grounds, but activists decided to continue with smaller activities.

The municipal authorities in Riga said 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.

In April a court ruled that the decision to ban a the 2006 Pride march was illegal.

Pride London twinned with Riga Pride in 2007 as a sign of solidarity and the Mayor of Riga said he was ashamed at the events in 2006.