Pride Marches On In Eastern Europe, But Not Without Stumbles

Despite inclement weather, some 400 Latvians walked for their rights during the March for Equality in Riga on Saturday, when more than 2,500 attendees showed up for Pride in Warsaw, Poland.

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.

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  • Houston Bill

    Here’s whats going on in Eastern Europe

    1) Poland – its still a bit dicey (especially in Lodz) but the situation is improving. A Gay man and a Transgendered person have been elected to their parliament (Sejm). The police actually are more interested in enforcing laws protecting Gays.

    2) Estonia – Gay Pride parades exist and violence is rare. But there is a Russian minority there, with predicatable problems.

    3) Czech Republic – Gay Pride exists, but the government is against it. However, basic civil liberties appear to be in effect.

    4) Latvia – Much more dicey. The new government is attempting to pass Russia style Nuremberg Laws to strip Gay citizens from freedom of protest, assembly, association, and speech. Those laws have not passed.

    5) Lithuania – Repealed its anti-Gay laws, but the situation is quite hostile. Violent acts against Gay persons (even televised ones) are not prosecuted.

    6) Slovakia – Police are begrudgingly protecting Gay persons. Population is very hostile

    7) Hungary – Government is very anti-Gay and attempts to arbitrarily ban freedom of speech, assembly, petition, and protest for Gay persons. However, those attempts have been overrulled by a holdover judge from the prior administration. That judge will likely be replaced this year.

    8) Serbia – A failed state. Violence against Gays common. Police publically refuse to do their jobs. Violent thugs, tied to the government, are allowed to effectively ban all freedom of speech and protest for minorites through violent acts (terrorism).

    9) Ukraine – Violence against Gays common. Police publically in support of non-arrest or prosecution of those committing violence against Gays. Government is about to pass Nuremberg Laws to ban basic citizenship rights for Gay Ukrainians.

    10) Croatia – A mixed bag. Gay parades begrugingly allowed in Zagreb, but police are unable or unwilling to prosecute violent thugs attacking Gay persons in Split.

    11) Albania – Government says one thing in the foreign press, but another thing in the local one. The Catholic Church is on record supporting the denial of freedom of speech for minorities there. The police refuse to do their jobs.

    12) Montenegro – Government unwilling to enforce basic freedoms.

    13) Belarus – A state with no freedom for anyone, gay or straight. The Dictator of the Belarusian state publically insulted the Gay Foreign Minister of Germany.

    14) Russia – A violent, homophobic state, with no freedom for Gays at all. Violence from the police and from those tied to/incited by the Russian Orthodox Church and the government is common and not prosecuted. Atlantis will be taking 2000 Gay tourists there this July.

    15) Georgia – A violent homophobic state where the police actively arrests Gays without authorization or legal sanction. Georgian Orthodox Church supports the denial of basic rights for Gay persons.

    16) Armenia – A violent homophobic state where the government is actively supporting those committing terrorist acts against Gay persons. That political party enjoyes massive funding from the Armenian community in the USA (the ARF).

    17) Moldova – Government actively attacks peaceful Gays. No freedom exists for Gays in Moldova.

    18) Bulgaria and Romania – Governments are making feeble attempts to enforce basic laws. Population is hostile.

    The situation in Eastern Europe is poor. And in many states its getting worse quickly.

  • sic!

    @Houston Bill
    fyi. there’s part of Europe called Central Europe, so please learn geography first, then use it to classify countries by rightful region

  • Houston Bill

    I define the border between Eastern and Central Europe to be the old Iron Curtain. Besides, every single former Warsaw Pact + Yugoslavia nation is worse than any European nation not a former member of that group on Gay rights matters. With the possible exception of Slovenia being better than Malta or Cyprus (but even that is unclear). The nations that I group as “Eastern Europe” fit together culturally, geographically, and economically.

    I’m not aware of any official definition of Eastern versus Central Europe. Exactly what nation are you offended by my placement of in Eastern Europe?

  • freddie

    @Houston Bill: As someone who lives in Europe, you are absolutely correct. Central Europe is Germany, Austria etc.

  • Houston Bill

    @freddie: I don’t like using the term Central Europe, because it seems to me to be so open for interpretation. Is Denmark in Central Europe or in Northern Europe (Scandanavia). Is Italy in Central Europe or is it in Southern Europe? Where do I place Luxembourg? Some people consider it only the German speaking nations of Europe. Others add the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and even Poland to it. It just seems to me that we simply divide Europe into Western Europe and Eastern Europe. Especially if we are talking about Gay rights.

    Seriously, the report referenced Latvia as part of Eastern Europe. I could get all pissy and say they should be considered a Baltic Country instead. I think Eastern Europe is correct for Latvia in this context as well as for all of the former Warsaw Pact, Albania, and the Former Yugoslavian nations.

  • sic!

    @Houston Bill seriously?! Iron Curtain definition?! what about we will call modern Germany and Austria with France as great Reich (before WW1), or South Europe as Roman Empire (ancient times) or Russia as CCCP (between fall of communism in 1991) ? You don’t have any right to categorize nations by your own opinion

    btw. Have you ever been in Central Europe country? Do you feel gay people living in those countries ? I beg to differ. If you’d be so eager for knowledge and experience you’d understand that non of nations living in Central Europe want to be categorized both as Eastern or Western Europe, because of history and economical point of view Central Europe is almost equal area.

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