Competing picketers to be kept apart while sharing park

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The Riga City Council ruled Monday to allow both the Europride Gay Rights parade and anti-globalist demonstrations to take place June 20 at the downtown Vērmane Gardens park, however the opposing groups will be kept from mingling at opposite sides of the territory, Latvian Radio news reporter Māris Klūga reported from city hall.

The NGO calling itself The Anti-Globalists had previously submitted its application to hold a demonstration there on June 20 in anticipation of the application term, hoping to precede gay rights NGO Mozaika from doing the same.

However the municipal authorities saw no reason to deny either group the right to assemble at Vērmane Gardens and granted permission for Anti-Globalisti to gather on the Merķeļa street side of the park, while Mozaika will do so on the Elizabetes street side.

Mozaika board chair Kristīne Garina said the group was not afraid of protesters against them.

“Our society has reactions against a lot of things, just look at the opposition to bicycle riders recently… Each group that wants to bring changes gets a reaction against them, but that doesn’t mean the changes aren’t necessary,” she said.

The council still has to consider how big the municipal police presence should be at the events and whether or not to separate them with barriers of some kind. Municipal Police chief Juris Lūkass is convinced the cops will deal with the day’s rowdy crowds adequately as usual.

The series of around fifty events comprising Europride begin already Monday, June 15 and are set to last the week, including a film festival, various conferences and a historian-curated exhibit.

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