Gay Guide to Riga
Gay rights in Riga have a long way to go before the country catches up with its Western European counterparts, so don't pack your bags expecting anything as raucous as the gay scene in Barcelona or Berlin. Though Riga itself is not as deeply Catholic as Vilnius, another Baltic city, it is nevertheless a relatively conservative place politically, and public officials (and of course church officials) have been known to openly speak out against homosexuality and homosexual organizations.
Riga tried to organize its first pride event in 2005, but government and church leaders and even several important public figures denounced the event and homosexuality in general, and the parade went off with more protesters than participants, with eggs, tomatoes, and even faeces being thrown and reports of violence being common. In 2006, the parade was unlawfully banned by the government under the pretext that it would threaten the peace of the country. Even after the ban, a conference was organized by the gay rights group Mozaika instead, but the participants were again faced with protesters throwing faeces and holy water at the participants. Perhaps the greatest sign of change is the fact that this year's Riga Pride Parade was the first one to go off successfully - if you count success as the lack of violence and throwing of faeces. Today, the gay rights groups are better organized and have the support of European officials and participants, and the potential for change and understanding is higher than ever.
Above: The 2007 Riga Pride parade, the first successful gay pride march in Riga
Riga's gay and gay-friendly venues:
Purvs, "The Swamp", is a gay-friendly club popular with straight clients as well.
Accommodation and Tours:
Centrum Gay Hotel:
A. Kalnina iela 4
Centrum is the only gay hotel in Riga, and is conveniently located next to XXL club and Riga's only gay sauna. The hotel is friendly and discreet with luxurious rooms and includes all the amenities of a high class hotel.
Pink Baltics features several options for gay tours: pinkbaltics.com
A. Kalnina iela 4
Varaviksne is the first gay sauna in Latvia. It's open daily from 3 pm until 2 am weekdays, and until 7 am Fridays and Saturdays. The sauna has its own bar, and features steam and dry saunas, a jacuzzi, cruising area, cabins and video rooms, and showers. Entrance is 7 Ls for under 25, 10 for over, and the entrance fee includes a towel, and even condom and lubricant.
Latvian GLBT Organizations and Websites:
Mozaika, the main GLBT alliance of Latvia, and organizer of the "March for Equality": mozaika.lv
Latvian Gay Portal: gay.lv
Pink Baltics, the first gay travel company for the Baltics: pinkbaltics.com
ILGA Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association: ilga-europe.org
If you know of other particularly gay-friendly places in Riga, please let us know; and feel free to post your comments about gay Riga on this page below. We encourage different viewpoints and want to hear your thoughts about the gay cause in Riga and Latvia (though we won't tolerate abusive or hateful comments). For more information about pro-gay organisations and events in Latvia, visit mozaika.lv. We've included a few Lativa-specific GLBT websites above, though a few are only in Latvian. We hope they'll be a helpful resource; if you know of any other helpful websites, let us know as well!
Jonas B from Norway Reply
Anyone else visiting Riga this weekend (27-29 july)?
abnce from France Reply
went to the sauna today, it's durty expenseve (12ls and in internet was suppose to be 7 untill 20h....) steamroom didn't work, waste of time and money
Manue from Spain Reply
I'm going to Latvia (Letonia in Spanish) next week. You said Golden is the most interesting place, would yo give the address please? Gracias
Moreno from Brazil Reply
I need an invitation code for conect in the Gay.lv, but i haven't mobile from Latvia. How can i get this code? Thanks!
Mike from United Kingdom Reply
Went to Golden on my first night and it was amazing! Friendly staff and even more friendly men! Drinks prices are very reasonable and music is brilliant. Went to XXL the second night. It was OK. Drink prices were more expensive than Golden and the men there seemed on the hunt for a 'man for the night' constantly. Overall, brilliant!!!
Jim from United Kingdom Reply
Sorry guys, if you think Riga is a catholic city, we can't believe anything you tell us. One can only assume you have never been there.
from Estonia Reply
I'm 25 years old and was thinking about going to the sauna Varaviksne and club XXL on april 7th in the evening. Is there anything going on?
Sebastien Boucher from Canada Reply
I was thinking about going to the sauna Varaviksne on June 7th in the evening. Am I going to have fun?
max from Italy Reply
I'll be in latvia from 3rd to 7 june
sani from United Kingdom Reply
can any body tell me what can I do for 2 days in Riga, i ll be on 06.06 and 07 of June there and it is during the week, any suggestion?
Sebastien Boucher from Canada Reply
I'll be in Riga in June 6th and 7th. Any suggestions as I'll be in town on a Monday and Tuesday night? I'm a young and nice Canadian.
Andreas J from United States Reply
Purvs doesnt exist anymore (thanks god for that)and Golden is litle more popular than XXL at the moment. But XXL is bigger and they have lowered the price on drinks now, so for guys XXL is better than Golden. When I visit Riga I start at Golden and somewhere between 1 and 2 0`clock I go to XXL.
silly and wolf from Germany Reply
y..we are for 4 weeks (starting) from 16.10.2010 in Riga, aged 44 and 42 and we looking for some swinger fun (cpl straight and cpl bi)..perhaps s.o can give us some advice..we living in a hotel..and looking forward
Kriss from Latvia Reply
I m living in Riga! Best here is Golden bar (It is like club) ;)Not xxl!
Martin from Canada Reply
This is a nice website perhaps you could remove the first comment on here as it is very unfriendly?
mica from United Kingdom Reply
hi i m going to riga with my best latvian friend and i m lil bit scared about the population s reaction first for being openly gay and also having a mixed race color(black-arabian) so i m sorry for being straight forward to my point but i seriously need some advice on my problem,thx in advance
Pelle from Sweden Reply
I am not from Riga, but I know there is a place called Golden bar. It is a mixed place, but mostly gay. Never been ther, though.
alex from United Kingdom Reply
hey its a great page but i was sure there is more places to go too.....is it only xxl and purvs????as im bringin 12 english friends with me in the middle of august gotta show them the gay scene in capital please some1 get back to me:)cheers alex
Alexander from United States Reply
You should correct your comment about Riga not being as Catholic as Vilnius. 80% of Latvians are Lutherans and 20% are Catholic from the southeast of the country where they are known as Latigals. The Slavic population is Orthodox. This says nothing about acutal church attendance which is quite low.
Sam from India Reply
am going to visit latvia. any idea of good gay places to visit?
Erik from Latvia Reply
Hi thanks so much for this page its very helpful! Please add more clubs if there are any!