Court gives go-ahead to gay and lesbian parade

A gay and lesbian “pride” parade planned July 23 in the Old City district of Rīga is on again after a court decision overturned the city manager’s decision to cancel a permit for the event.

The Rīga District Administrative Court ruled July 22 that the city must re-issue a permit for the parade, but a city attorney said that may not be possible because of time contraints, according to the LETA news agency. Instead, City Attorney Ivars Mauriņš said, based on the court’s decision the earlier permit will be valid.

The parade is planned as part of Rīga Pride 2005, the first-ever gay and lesbian event of its kind in Latvia.

“We salute the decision of the court and consider it a victory for democracy and reason over prejudice and hate,” the Gay and Lesbian Youth Support Group (Geju un lesbiešu jauniešu atbalsta grupa, or GLJAG), said in an announcement posted on its Web site.

But the conservative and religious Latvijas Pirmā partija (First Party of Latvia, or LPP) announced its disappointment over the court’s decision and called on the public to participate in an ecumenical service in the Dome Church on July 23. The service is to start at the same time as the parade, which itself concludes with a service at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church.

LPP issued a statement in which it apologized to the public, saying that even though the party is in the ruling coalition in the Rīga City Council it was unable to stop the parade.

Citing concerns about potential unrest involving extremist groups, Rīga City Manager Ēriks Škapars on July 20 cancelled the parade permit.

Ironically, one of the groups pointed to as a potential troublemaker, the nationalist youth organization Klubs 415, now finds itself without a permit for its planned counterdemonstration, an event titled “Mēs par ģimeni!” (We’re for Family!) in the Esplanāde park in downtown Rīga. While Klubs 415 on July 20 commended the “courageous decision” by the city to pull the permit for the gay and lesbian parade, on July 22 it slammed the city for refusing to issue a permit for the group’s own event.

Klubs 415, in a statement to the press, said its event will take place even without a permit.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

6 thoughts on “Court gives go-ahead to gay and lesbian parade

  1. My very, very best wishes to GLJAG and all Riga Pride 2005 participants. It is heartening to see that social justice is moving forward in Latvia despite attempts to turn back the clock. Be proud!

  2. Great to see that common sense has finally prevailed.
    Nevertheless, it seems this is just the start of the issue, not the resolution.

  3. This is great news!
    Happy pride to GLJAG and all LGBT Latvians! – and have a great day Riga!
    x BeLonG To Youth Project

  4. Hallo! Freedom has truly arrived in Latvia! Stalin would be rolling in his grave, but hey; Latvians are now free! Here in America there is going to be a constitutional ban on gay marriage. I hope Latvia never has to experience this Soviet-style alteration of the American Constitution! Sveiks!
    Page Sausman
    Boise, Idaho USA

  5. The court’s reversal of the Riga City council was welcome news. Unfortunately, the number of gay marchers was far outnumbered by protestors. Some homophobes hurled rotten eggs and other items at those marching in the parade. If Latvia is to receive respect by western European and North American countries, it will be necessary for them to promote tolerance of all kinds of minorities, including sexual orientation.
    Vilis Inde
    Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

  6. “I hope Latvia never has to experience this Soviet-style alteration of the American Constitution!”

    Yes, the USSR would ban the parade and jail everyone involved, but don’t call Bush’s decisions “Soviet-style”. Because this sort of thinking didn’t only come from the USSR. People were jailed for their sexuality in Canada as late as in the 1960’s. So the mentality is not “Soviet” it’s narrow-minded. And we all know that Bush is that and much more.

    The US is not such a liberal country. Not with Bush as the president. It’s more like a monarchy with a small-minded pseudo-Christian for a king.

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