Europride: force can be used to maintain public order

Latvian law enforcement agencies are waiting for the gay pride parade planned in Riga on June 20 as part of Europride 2015,  with concern, Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis said in an interview with the BNS newswire Wednesday.

Kozlovskis said that the authorities knew from previous national gay pride events that this was a controversial subject and there were people and groups in Latvia which opposed homosexuality and were prepared to demonstrate their anti-gay position actively.

“We have been working on this [the public security during Europride 2015] for quite a while, coordinating the routes and thinking about protection. I see this as the biggest challenge. We wait for this event with much concern and are making very serious preparations,” the minister said.

The Latvian authorities are now trying to determine the likely numbers of the anti-gay protesters and their inclination to aggressive behavior, he said.

“I would like to remind everyone that there is freedom of speech and expression, even if someone does not like it, and to advise them against challenging the police officers otherwise the police will have to use force to restore the public order,” Kozlovskis said.

Europride 2015 will take place in Riga on June 15-21 with around 50 different events planned in the Latvian capital during that week that might draw about 1,000 foreign guests to Latvia.

The Europride 2015 week will culminate with a gay pride parade on June 20 in the Riga center to be organized by the local LGBT rights group Mozaika.

An organization dubbed 'Antiglobalists' wanted to organize a picket "to popularize the family values" on the same date and place. The Riga City Council which has to authorize all public events, has asked Mozaika to make some alterations to the planned route of the procession that will now end inside the Vermane Park, and the Antiglobalists will be allowed to hold their demonstration on the other side of the fence surrounding the park.

Whereas in most European countries, 'anti-globalists' are left wing libertarians, in one of the curious twists of Latvian society, this particular group is  staunch advocate of the nuclear family, seeing gay rights as part of a grand international neoliberal corporate conspiracy.

"Homosexuality is a sickness. Homosexuality can be treated," states their website, and their manifesto calls for the "banning of all public displays of LGBT activity."

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