Riga: Baltic Pride 2012 took place peacefully

The 2012 edition of Baltic Pride unfolded peacefully in the centre of Riga, the Latvian capital. The pride event gathers LGBT people from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania every year.

About 500 marchers walked in central streets, and gathered in an open park for speeches. Less than 50 protesters were present, and no force was used by the police.

Several politicians were present for the festivities, including Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs at the rally, and Minister of Welfare Ilze Viņķele and Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs at a reception.

This success took place in spite of an independent Riga City councillor tabling a local bill to forbid the ‘propaganda of homosexuality’. The bill wasn’t examined by the Council.

Representing the LGBT Intergroup, Ulrike Lunacek MEP described the events:

Two ministers and the mayor turning up was unheard of before in a country where, six years ago, us Baltic Pride participants had to hide in a hotel, because the police couldn’t or wouldn’t protect us from radical protesters on the street.

This time everything was different: merely a couple dozen counter-protesters were pushed to the margins, we proudly walked through the center of Riga (not even stopped by heavy rain!), and the police did a very good job of protecting us where and when it was necessary.

Activists from Lithuania and Estonia joined, but also from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. As I said on stage, it’s for homophobic laws to return to the closet, not for us lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people!

Our It Gets Better video, featuring Latvia’s European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, was screened and loudly applauded.

Photo credits: © Vytautas Valentinavičius