The events were just two of several Pride celebrations planned for Eastern Europe this month, as the region has seen increased openness since the expansion of the European Union in 2004.
But hostility continues to manifest itself: Last year, Serbian government officials once again canceled Belgrade Pride, citing threats of violence. And in Riga, the city council is considering a gay-propaganda ban akin to the one in St. Petersburg
Ola Osinska, who held hands with her girlfriend at Warsaw Pride, says she’s been attacked in the capital city for being a lesbian.
“It’s even worse in small Polish towns,” Osinska told the AP. “[But] even though I have been beaten three times, I am here today because I want to show that I will not hide.”
The celebrations in Riga and Warsaw, both capital cities of countries with a strong Roman Catholic presence, required massive police protection, but those present say there were fewer disturbances by anti-gay forces.
American diplomats, sparked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s push to secure international LGBT rights, have gotten involved too: Lee Feinstein, the U.S. Ambassador to Poland, was one of ten Western diplomats that signed a letter supporting international LGBT rights.
Feinstein was out of town and unable to attend Warsaw Pride, but U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Judith Garber did march at the parade in Riga. “Human rights belong to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation,” she said.