Eastern Europe celebrates gay pride in face of anti-gay leadershipBottom Highlights, Online Only, This Week Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
The LGBT community in Poland and Latvia gathered Sunday to voice their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people following a demand for equal rights in Eastern European societies.
The Pride parades were supported by the U.S. government and other Western countries who have voiced support for LGBT equality in an effort to convert traditionally anti-gay discrimination that often precedes Eastern European countries.
Nearly 2,500 LGBT activists and allies gathered in the city of Warsaw, Poland to rally for equal rights. Four hundred people also rallied in Riga. Both events required massive police protection according to reports at the Associated Press after previous Pride events resulted in violence and heckling.
“It’s even worse in small Polish towns,” said Ola Osinska, a 28-year-old lesbian who participated in the rally according to the Associated Press. “And even though I have been beaten three times, I am here today because I want to show that I will not hide.”
Several U.S. diplomats participated in the Riga demonstration.
“Human rights belong to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. So we are marching in support of LGBT people here in Latvia, in the Baltics, in Europe, and throughout the world,” said U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Judith Garber.
Marchers were accompanied by techno and pop music alongside colorful balloons and drag queens that were on scene to lighten the mood. One banner read, “It’s better to be gay than a dictator” – a statement directed at Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, who is gay.
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