Posted on Advocate

Visiting The Surprising City Picked for Euro Pride

Published: 10/03/2015

A decade ago, two young Latvians, fresh from volunteering at Stockholm Pride, decided the time was right for Riga to host its own festival. They planned a small parade through the capital’s old town and applied to the city council for permission. Perhaps without quite realizing what it was getting itself into, the council accepted the proposal. Latvia was to get its very first public LGBT event, and no one knew what to expect.

That changed when a local Catholic church caught wind of the plans. Incandescent with anger at the idea of homosexuals flagrantly capering past their sacred space, the church united with some equally outraged politicians to ban the event. The council conformed in a decision that drew widespread media reportage. Riga Pride was now national news, and when a court overturned the council’s festival ban two days later, the coverage intensified.

Seventy LGBT activists took to the streets of Riga on July 22, 2005. They were met by thousands of protesters. If the message of the council hadn’t been clear before, the protesters were clarifying now: Homosexuality had no place in Latvia.

 

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