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.
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