Amnesty International has condemned the decision by the Rīga City Council to ban a gay pride parade that had been scheduled July 22, while parade promoters have taken the matter to court.
The city council, citing security concerns, on July 19 denied a permit for “Riga Pride 2006,” setting in motion a potential repeat of events that occurred last year during the capital city’s first-ever gay pride parade.
Mozaīka, the nonprofit group organizing this year’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender event, has appealed the council’s decision to the Rīga District Administrative Court. The court is scheduled to consider the matter July 21.
The council’s decision was based on unspecified threats of violence from various extremist groups.
But Amnesty International questioned the council’s reasoning.
“The claims of Rīga City Council that security would not be able to be guaranteed to the participants of the march lacks credibility,” the London-based Amnesty Internation said in a press release, “considering that Latvian law enforcement agencies had the capacity to effectively ensure security during previous events of a similar or larger scale such as the 2006 ice hockey World Championships, and are expected to so during the November 2006 NATO summit in Rīga.”
The council also had received a petition signed by about 17,000 people demanding the city forbid the parade.
Last year, the city granted a permit for the parade, but the city manager—citing security concerns—subsequently canceled it. Parade organizers appealed to the administrative court, which ruled the city must re-issue the permit. The July 23, 2005, parade was marked by more anti-gay protestors than marchers.
Both pride event promoters and their opponents appear better organized this year. Mozaīka, a group formed following last year’s pride event, in April unveiled a new Web site, www.mozaika.lv. Meanwhlle, opponents have created a nonprofit group called NoPride and began the Web site www.nopride.lv.
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