After presidential pressure and long debates in Parliament, amendments to the labor law that ban job discrimination against gays and lesbians were finally passed on Sept. 21, bringing Latvia's legislation in line with EU directives. The amendments were passed 46 votes against 35, with three abstentions. In June, Parliament amended the labor law to remove sexual orientation from the draft's anti-discrimination legislation. But since the move violated EU directives, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga returned the bill to Parliament, where it was rejected.
The Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau detained Deputy State Secretary Andis Cinis and Riga State Technical College director Dainis Markus for accepting an 80,000 lat (113,830 euro) bribe. It is alleged that, using careful planning and an intermediary, Markus paid a bribe to Cinis for signing a document settling a civil case in the name of the ministry and technical school. Both Cinis and Markus were released after the Riga Northern District Court rejected the request to hold them.
Vike-Freiberga was on official visit in Canada last week, where she was awarded the Ordre National Du Quebec, the province&"039;s highest decoration. Quebec Prime Minister Jean Chares said that the people of Quebec were pleased to present the award, pointing to her contributions both to Quebec and Latvia&"039;s post-Soviet development. The president was moved by the award saying, "The years I spent in Quebec have deeply influenced me."