Citing security concerns, the Riga City Council meetings decided against authorizing the gay pride parade, which was planned for July 22. Riga deputy executive director Andris Grinbergs said the City Council's meetings, demonstrations and pickets committee had received information from security police suggesting threats of violence during the parade. Therefore, members of the committee decided against authorizing the march.
Grinbergs declined to specify the security threats, saying that the information was confidential. He said that organizers of the gay pride could contest the city council's decision in court.
If the city council's decision is overruled, Grinbergs added, both municipal and state police, as well as other security structures, will be ready to ensure public order during the event.
The official also denied that the decision was influenced by political pressure.
"The committee bases the assessment of applications on legislative norms, and political passions have been put aside in this case," he explained.
In Grinbergs' words, representatives of gay and lesbian organizations had informed committee members about the provisional route of the Riga Pride 2006 march. It would start in Vermane Park, they said, and continue through several downtown streets, ending back in the park.
The organizers refused to stage the demonstration outside downtown Riga, saying they wanted Riga Pride 2006 to be seen by the public.
Linda Freimane, a representative of Latvia's Mozaika gay rights group, said the organization was planning to appeal the city council's decision in court.
"Anywhere else in the world there is a practice to allow a peaceful group to express itself, even if an aggressive group is threatening the demonstration," she said.
Freimane pointed out that Mozaika had no plans to stage an unauthorized demonstration, therefore she hopes that the court will overrule the decision of the city council. Mozaika is set to file its claim with a court already on July 19.