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Riga City Council Tries To Ban Baltic Pride

Jim Burroway

May 15th, 2009

City officials in Riga, Latvia,  banned the Baltic Pride march planned for Saturday, but a court has overturned that ban.

The march had been approved by city officials, but a majority of the city council members moved to overturn the decision. Mozaika, the Lithuanian Gay League and Estonian Gay Youth, the group that had organized the march, challenged the decision in court. The court overturned the ban less than twenty-four hours before the march was due to take place.

Pride celebrations three years ago were marred by angry protests and feces-throwing. Janis Dzelme was found guilty of “gross public disorderliness” in connection with the incident. He worked in the Saeima (Parliament) for Dainis Turlais of the Latvia First Party, and is a member of Alexai Ledyaev’s New Generation Church. The Latvia First Party is closely connected with New Generation and Watchmen On the Walls, a millitant anti-gay organization. Dainis Turlais has a reputation for being among the most homophobic lawmakers in Parliament, calling gays “pigs” and “bacteria.” Ledyaev was in the court room to hear the verdict and sentence along with 20 members of New Generation.

Last year’s march went ahead without incident.

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