ELJA50: ‘Par Labu Latviju!’ newsletter discriminates against sexual minorities

Detail from PLL newsletter

ELJA50 complains that material such as this, found in the August newsletter distributed in Rīga by the political coalition Par Labu Latviju! (PLL), violates anti-discrimination laws. The headline and text link sexual minorities with one of PLL’s rivals, Vienotība.

A nonprofit organization with roots in the European exile community wants Latvia’s ombudsman Romāns Apsītis to rule that a recent political newsletter discriminates against sexual minorities.

ELJA50, an organization founded in 2005 as a continuation of the European Latvian Youth Association, filed the complaint Sept. 13 over a campaign newsletter distributed in Rīga by the conservative political coalition Par Labu Latviju! (PLL).

PLL is one of 13 parties that have fielded candidates in the Oct. 2 parliamentary election. It is a coalition of the First Party of Latvia (Latvijas Pirmā partija) and the People’s Party (Tautas partija).

ELJA50’s complaint is focused on PLL’s August newsletter. The 16-page publication includes three references to gays and transsexuals that portray them as inferior, ELJA50 claims.

Two of the references link sexual minorities with the political coalition Vienotība (Unity), another of the parties competing in the election. On the cover of the newsletter, a headline under a photograph of Vienotība candidate Artis Pabriks states that gays will be voting for Vienotība. On the fifth page, a box with text and photographs of four Vienotība candidates is highlighted with the headline “Geji un transseksuāļi balsos par Vienotību” (Gays and transsexuals to vote for Vienotība). The text notes that the Rīga-based Mozaika alliance of sexual minorities is supporting Vienotība in the parliamentary election.

The last page of the newsletter includes a cartoon of two men holding hands while looking at a poster of PLL leader Ainārs Šlesers. One of the men points to the poster, expresses disgust at Šlesers and says that the politician will not be invited to their wedding.

The newsletter’s comments about sexual minorities violate Latvia’s advertising law and the country’s constitution, as well as several international agreements that forbid discrimination, according to ELJA50’s complaint. ELJA50 suggests PLL’s actions might also be a violation of Latvia’s criminal law against discrimination.

The ombudsman’s office is a state institution. Like similar offices in other countries, Latvia’s ombudsman exists to safeguard the rights of individuals.

The ombuds office has 30 days in which to either accept or decline to further review ELJA50’s complaint.

Under Latvia’s ombuds law, the ombudsman may pursue legal action in cases where discrimination is determined.

A spokesperson for PLL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *