Latvia's homophobia hard to explain: Minister

  • 2007-03-05
  • From wire reports
The Latvian Special Minister for Society Integration, Oskars Kastens, said he found it difficult to explain why gay rights issues have become so topical in recent years.
"It is hard to explain this phenomenon. The gay issue has not been so topical in Latvia since the restoration of Latvia's independence. I remember, in the mid-1990s a Latvian and a German girl holding a wedding ceremony by the Freedom Monument in Riga, people were watching, but there was no fuss about it," Kastens said in an interview with the Latvian daily newspaper Neatkariga on Mar. 5.
He said he believed it was a mistake for gay activists to attend a church service as part of the first pride parade in 2005. Such a move may have stirred up antagonism amongst Latvians, 80 percent of whom claim to be Christian believers, he said.
"I think it insulted the believers and aroused a negative reaction."
Latvia has already been criticized by foreign politicians and non-governmental organizations on its attitude to the rights of sexual minorities.
Last year the Riga City Council to issue a permit for a gay pride parade, a decision which was upheld by a court upon appeal.
Instead of the gay pride parade, members of Latvia's gay community still gathered for Friendship Day events, receiving condemnation and even aggression from the public.