RIGA - Riga Mayor Martins Stakis (For/Progressives) at a meeting of the capital city's ruling coalition on Tuesday admitted that his failure to consult with colleagues about flying the LGBTQ flag on the city hall building was a mistake.
Stakis told LETA that he cannot deny what is obvious to everyone. The mayor explained his unilateral decision to fly the flag to councilors saying that he wanted the Latvian capital Riga to show support for the LGBTQ community in its fight for human rights and against violence and discrimination as it is done in other cities in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
Stakis promised that from now on he will inform his colleagues about his plans and coordinate his actions with the councilors.
Taking into account that the mayor acknowledged his unilateral decision at the Riga City Council coalition meeting on Tuesday and discussed councilors' future actions in such situations, coalition partners from the National Alliance and the Latvian Association of Regions (LRA) accepted Stakis' explanation, said Vice Mayor Edvards Ratnieks (National Alliance), adding that the incident is thereby closed.
As reported, Riga City Council members from the National Alliance and the Latvian Alliance of Regions (LRA) demanded the removal of the LGBTQ flag from the Riga City Hall building after Stakis had flown the rainbow flag in honor of Riga Pride last weekend.
Members of the NA/LRA faction argued that Riga Mayor Martins Stakis had acted arbitrarily and undemocratically, imposing his will on the majority without discussion within the Riga City Council coalition or faction council. Ratnieks emphasized that the Riga City Council is not in the hands of one party, and the majority of the city council does not symbolize this ideology. The Riga City Council is a representative institution of all Riga residents. It is the central building of the municipality, not the private property of one official or a cafe, he said.
On the other hand, the mayor of Riga Martins Stakis emphasized that the hanging of the LGBTQ flag in front of the Riga City Council building was his order, in solidarity with Latvian citizens who joined the Riga Pride march today to stand up for human rights, and against violence and discrimination, the opinion of the mayor of Riga was expressed to LETA by his advisor Aleksis Zoldners.
"Riga is the capital of Latvia, a country of the European Union, and, just like in other European cities, this flag is hung in front of the city hall before the pride parade. In Vilnius, even recently, the city council was lit up in rainbow colors. We are happy to be united with our allies - the countries of the European Union, the United States and Canadian embassies in Latvia," Stakis said, explaining his refusal to take down the flag.