The Baltic Pride march and public gathering, scheduled for May 16 in and near a park in downtown Riga, has effectively been banned by the city authorities. Technically, a gathering is still allowed at on the November 11 riverside road, where it was held last year and, in fact, would cause a greater disruption of through traffic than by cordoning off two streets for 30 minutes.
Two religious leaders Cardinal Pujats and Rev. Jānis Šmits were present at the Riga commission hearing (called to reconsider the permit granted to the Baltic Pride organizers). It is unclear whether they were allowed to attend the hearing, but both have demanded that any public activities by LGBT people be forbidden and condemned as immoral.
Mozaika, the Latvian LGBT organization sponsoring the event has started legal proceedings to overturn the commission's reversal of its earlier ruling. The second hearing was called after 34 out of 60 Riga City council deputies signed a letter demanding that the march permit be rescinded, citing public order (blocked streets) and "public morals". Several radical nationalist organizations have called for counterdemonstrations, both against the LGBT event and as a general protest against political and economic conditions in Latvia (apparently in an effort to gain attention on the assumption that the Baltic Pride could draw large crowds of curious and, to some extent, skeptical and hostile/to the gay event/ onlookers).
My take: this place gets more and more hopeless as democratic elections for local government approach and the most blatantly anti-democratic, authoritarian cryptofascist politicians make the most of this.
Lots of people will write how homophobic this is. OK, it is. What worries me as a heterosexual is that it is also freedom-of-speech-phobic or simply freedomphobic. And that affects all of us. Unlike sexual orientation, freedomphobia can spread and has spread in Latvia, but homo postsovieticus doesn't see that, won't see that and is happy and proud of not seeing that.
Time for an Ignorance Pride -- but hey, it has been going on for years!