Baltic Pride is an annual LGBT pride parade rotating in turn between the capitals of the Baltic states; Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. It is held in support of raising issues of tolerance and the rights of LGBT community and is supported by ILGA-Europe. Since 2009 the main organisers have been Mozaīka, the National LGBT Rights Organization LGL Lithuanian Gay League, and the Estonian LGBT Association.
The first pride event held in Latvia took place in 2005 under the name Riga Pride, as the local equivalent to other pride parades held elsewhere around the world. Political opposition to Pride emerged after organizers received a permit. The Prime Minister of Latvia Aigars Kalvītis publicly opposed the event, and Pride was officially sanctioned only after a court overturned a withdrawal of the permit. The deputy Mayor of Riga Juris Lujāns resigned in protest at the event going ahead.
Following public manifestations of homophobia surrounding the first event in 2005, some members of the LGBT community, their friends, and family members united to found the organisation Mozaīka (Mosaic), in an attempt to improve the understanding of and tolerance for LGBT rights in Latvia.
From 2006, the event was officially known as Riga Pride and Friendship Days, expanding the programme beyond a parade to include an ecumenical church service at St. Saviour's Anglican Church, and seminars on tolerance and LGBT rights. It was significantly disrupted by protesters from "No Pride", among other groups. The European Parliament expressed its disappointment at the failure of Latvian authorities to adequately protect the parade.
In 2009 the march was allowed by the Administrative Court of Riga. It was the first to be called Baltic Pride and began a rotation annually between each Baltic state capital in cooperation with the Lithuanian Gay League, the Estonian LGBT Association (until 2012 known as Estonian Gay Youth) and their local Pride events.
Over the years, the event has been threatened by protests. In 2006, Riga City Council at first tried to refuse permission for the Pride Parade. Similar political debates surrounded the first Pride Parade in 2005.
The LGBT community in Latvia has been divided in its attitudes to the event. In a February 2007 survey of 537 LGBT persons by ILGA-Latvija, 82% of respondents said they were not in favour of holding the planned Riga Pride and Friendship Days 2007, while only 7% felt that these events would help promote tolerance towards sexual minorities. ILGA-Latvija, however, has since changed its stance and now is positive towards the Riga Pride and Friendship Days.
The parade took place in Vilnius in 2010 and 2013. The 2010 event was the first public pride march organised in Lithuania. In 2013 the Mayor of Vilnius had made every attempt to forcefully relocate the Pride parade to the riverbank (where it had taken place in 2010), on a remote street outside the city centre. Two courts ruled that he couldn’t, and that Baltic Pride had the right to use the same route other public demonstrations did.
On 18 June 2016 a crowd of 3,000 Lithuanian LGBT* community members and allies participated in the Baltic Pride March on the central avenue in the centre of Vilnius. The March took place without any serious incidents. The route of the march from Lukiškių Square to Bernardine Garden totaled 2.3 kilometres.
Baltic Pride was used to challenge the discriminatory application of the “anti-gay propaganda” legislation and to encourage public debate on legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Lithuania.
After the March the participants gathered at the Loftas art factory for the Baltic Pride Park 2016 concert, featuring performances by Dana International, DJ Leomeo, LaDiva Live, Maria Sam Katseva, Donny Montell, Ruslanas Kirilkinas and Sasha Song.
In 2017 the Baltic Pride festival will be hosted in the Estonian capital Tallinn.
Pride parades have been organised since 2004 in Tallinn. The city hosted Baltic Pride in 2011 and 2014.
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- Mozaīka English-language homepage
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- Eesti LGBT Ühing Estonia official website
- Mozaīka Latvia official website
- LGL Lithuania official website
- News video from Riga Pride and Friendship Days 2008, including protests (Latvian)
- Baltic Pride Facebook