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Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, A/HRC/4/37/Add.1, 27 March 2007: Latvia

402. On 30 November 2006 the Special Representative, together with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression sent a letter of urgent appeal concerning participants in “Riga Pride 2006”, a peaceful protest organised to promote awareness of the human rights of lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. According to the information received, on 19 July 2006 the Riga City Council denied an application by a number of organizations to hold “Riga Pride 2006” on 22 July 2006. The organizations appealed this decision but it was upheld by the Administrative Court of Latvia on 21 July 2006, allegedly on the grounds that the proposed event would pose a threat to national security. Detailed information regarding the reasons for this decision was reportedly classified as a state secret and will not be made available to the organisations for another five years. Following these events, the organisers of Riga Pride 2006 decided to organize a number of events on 22 July 2006 in place of the original protest march. It is reported that participants attended a service at the Anglican Church in Riga on the morning of 22 July 2006 and, as they were leaving the church, a group of anti-gay protestors who had gathered outside threw eggs and human excrement at them and verbally abused them. Reportedly, police officers who were present at the time, refused to assist individuals who asked them for assistance and protection as they were making their way from the church. Concerns are expressed that the denial of a permit to the organizers of “Riga Pride 2006” may have been aimed at preventing defenders of the rights of sexual minorities from carrying out their peaceful activities to raise awareness of the universality of human rights, to be applied to all persons regardless of their perceived sexual orientation. Further concerns are expressed by the allegations that police officers failed to provide adequate protection to participants in the service at the Anglican Church in Riga on 22 July 2006.

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