EuroPride 2015 takes places this weekend in Riga, Latvia and Amnesty International is calling on the government to protect attendees from the violence that has marred earlier local pride events. Latvian President Andris Berzins has denounced EuroPride, saying that “homosexuality should not be advertised and imposed.”
“It is disturbing to see the Latvian government’s evident discomfort at hosting EuroPride. Instead of welcoming an event meant to champion openness and tolerance, Latvia’s leaders seem to be turning their backs on it. As the country holding the presidency of the European Union, Latvia should be leading by example in the fight against homophobic discrimination,” said Lucy Freeman, Director of Amnesty International’s Gender, Sexual and Identity Programme. “With homophobic violence a clear and present danger for activists in post-Soviet states, this week’s EuroPride will hopefully send a message that progress is possible and deep-seated discrimination can be uprooted and replaced with tolerance,” Freeman continued. “The sad fact is the majority of Latvian society is against EuroPride and advancing LGBTI rights remains a struggle: same-sex couples are invisible for the government, homophobic hate crimes are not recognised and high-level politicians employ vicious homophobic rhetoric,” said Kaspars Zalitis, a board member of Mozaika, the Latvian group organising EuroPride 2015.
Earlier this year a group calling itself “No Homo” attended to block EuroPride by reserving all of the Riga venues planned for use during the event. On the “No Homo” website, the group declares, “Homosexuality is a disease. Homosexuality is treatable.”
RELATED: EuroPride launched in London in 1992 and has since been
hosted by Berlin, Rome, Paris, Copenhagen, and other major European
cities. EuroPride 2016 will be hosted by Amsterdam.