Riga Pride Parade Set to Go On

While gay rights in the Baltics have been anything but popular in the past, things are slowly taking a turn for the better, at least for those of the pink persuasion in Riga. While sadly Vilnius's mayor prohibited the Vilnius pride parade from occurring this year, Riga's new mayor has just given the city the go-ahead to organize the event in 2007. Despite a history of homophobia in the Baltic States, the organisers of Riga Pride are feeling confident that this year will bring much needed change - and they have the EU on their side.

This coming weekend, hundreds of supporters from all over Europe, including representatives of London Pride and Amnesty International and a delegation of Swedish MPs and MEPs, will flock to Latvia's capital for the four days of pride events beginning on the 31st of May (check out our events calendar for a full schedule). The cumulation of the event will be the Pride march on Sunday, which will take place despite concerns of a counter-march or protests from the city's rather homophobic population. Last year, the parade was banned by the city authorities, and incidences of violence were reported. This year, the authorities are planning police security for the march and other events. Meanwhile, the Church is up to its old homophobic games, as the Archbishop of Riga wrote an open letter this month calling on crowds of people to take to the streets of Riga to oppose the Pride events. Nonetheless, the event is set to go on, and we at Riga Life hope it will be a milestone in the fight for tolerance in Lativa.

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