Baltic Pride 2012: successful transition from ban and violence to celebration and governmental recognition
This year the Baltic Pride took place in Riga, Latvia. During the last years, the Baltic Pride was one of a few problematic Pride events in the European Union and was accompanied by a number of attempts by the authorities in Latvia and Lithuania to ban the event as well as violent attacks and mass scale protests by the opponents of the human rights of LGBTI people.
Fortunately, for the first time this year’s Baltic Pride in Riga took place peacefully and the city authorities did not attempt to ban the Pride march. The Pride march took place in the centre of Riga and, for the time, the participants walked without being separated from other citizens by police fences. The number of protesters was very insignificant and no attacks on the participants were registered.
ILGA-Europe supported the Baltic Pride for a number of years and also this year our representatives went to Riga. ILGA-Europe congratulates Mozaīka, Latvian alliance of LGBTI people and their friends, as well as Latvian authorities for ensuring the first ever peaceful Pride march in Riga.
During the Baltic Pride week a number of other significant developments took place. Among them was a conference in the premises of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which attracted a number of Latvian officials. Nils Ušakovs, current Mayor of Riga, and Ilze Viņķele, Latvian Minister for Welfare, took part in a reception to celebrate the Baltic Pride and Ms Viņķele presented a plaque of recognition to Mozaīka for its contribution towards the improvement of the human rights situation of LGBTI people in Latvia.
Edgars Rinkēvičs, Latvian Minister for Foreign Affairs, attended the closing event in the park following the Pride march. This was the first ever occasion when a government’s representative participated in the Pride event in Latvia. He stated that while his ministry is not the one whose mandate is to address the issue, he would take all necessary steps towards the improvement of the human rights situation of LGBTI people in Latvia. Mr Rinkēvičs was also approached by ILGA-Europe and was presented our latest Rainbow Europe Map 2012.