Latvian anti-gay protesters attack gay activists

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Gay activists said they were pelted with eggs and bags of excrement yesterday in Riga, Latvia after a service at the Anglican church, and at a press conference and pride conference at Reval Hotel Latvia. In these and other incidents, 14 people in total were arrested.

Māris Sants, co-organizer of the gay pride festival, told Reuters that police didn't provide protection for participants at the church service. Police officials stated that they were not informed about the event, but did arrive after a few minutes, and later confirmed that five people were arrested in connection with this incident.

More than a hundred protesters gathered near Reval Hotel Latvia, where gay activists were organizing a conference. Protesters were from the organization "NoPride", the party "Nacionālā Spēka Savienība" (NSS), and other groups.

LGBT activist Gastons Lakombe told Apollo internet portal that the most dangerous incident occurred on the Jurmala highway, when a few cars tried to "drive a taxi ferrying gay activists off the road. According to Lakombe, protesters attacked the taxi first at the Reval Hotel, Latvia, by throwing eggs and bottles of water. A few cars followed and on the Jurmala highway "made some dangerous maneuvers, that seriously frightened passengers", said Imants Kozlovskis, an LGBT activist who was inside the taxi.

Gay pride marches were banned this year by the Riga City council. The Administrative Court refused to remove the ban a few days later, citing security considerations.

During protests against "Riga pride 2005" last year, eight people were arrested for trying to block a gay parade and for throwing eggs on the parade participants.