LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

EuroPride 2015: a watershed moment for Latvia

This week EuroPride is taking place in Latvia which currently hosts the EU Presidency. This is the very first EuroPride which is taking place in the former USSR territory.

ILGA-Europe is calling on Latvian politicians to seize this historic moment and to take the next major step towards equality for LGBTI people.

The first Pride took place in Latvia exactly 10 years ago and during the last decade the country made significant progress. Latvia left behind bans and other administrative obstacles, lack of protection of the participants of Pride events, and violent protests. Now the freedom of assembly and expression as well as safety of LGBTI citizens and their supporters during such events are ensured and guaranteed by the Latvian state.

However, the country is on a cross road between embracing the fundamental principles of the European Union and advancing the human rights of LGBTI people or slipping back into the past and mirroring by its eastern neighbours and introducing discriminatory and oppressive laws.

Just yesterday, the Latvian Parliament adopted a change in education law which prescribes ‘constitutional morality education’ to schoolchildren to ensure children are educated in line with the constitutional definition of marriage as union between a man and a woman.  In effect such legislative change mirrors the infamous Russian law banning ’gay propaganda’ to minors. On the other hand, Latvia is in the midst of a very lively and positive debate of a gender neutral cohabitation law which is being championed by some mainstream politicians and gaining wider public support.

Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said:
“We hope EuroPride 2015 will be an inspiration and opportunity for Latvia to leave its past behind and to fully embrace human rights, equality and freedom. In many ways, Latvia is at a crossroads when it comes to LGBTI rights: it can either make a breakthrough and fully embrace democratic values or it will allow itself to fall back into a place of censorship, repression and discrimination. We urge politicians and decision-makers to seize this moment to take action and to ensure that Latvia is the best place possible for everyone living in the country”.