UNISON – European Pride

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2006 National LGBT Conference
28 July 2006
Carried as Amended

While over 500,000 people attended the various events and over 50,000 marching for Europride in London last June, events throughout major European cities have not met such an enthusiastic welcome.

With reference to the Pride march in Riga Latvia on Saturday, July 22 the meeting at the city council refused permissions for the march to take place. This meeting was attended by acting executive director of the city of Riga, P. I. Grïnbergs, and by representatives of several security structures of the Interior Ministry. The city council justified its decision by invoking threats of violence allegedly received from extremist groups and the police’s inability to guarantee security and order during the march. According to city officials, the information about these threats is classified as a state secret, and will not be made public for 5 years.

Three day later, on Saturday 22 July, those attending a church service held in support of Riga Pride 2006 were attacked by a large group of people who threw, among other things, eggs and excrement at them. A member of the European Parliament and members of national parliaments from around Europe were among those who shared a similar experience when they tried to leave a press conference organised by the Riga Pride 2006. A group of up to 100 anti-LGBT protesters attacked them and other participants in the press conference.

The organisers of both events had requested police protection well in advance. Yet any significant police presence only materialised a few hours after the start of the attacks against the participants in the press conference. Eventually, 13 people were detained on administrative charges, and one on criminal charges.

Amnesty International stated “The Latvian authorities have breached their obligations under international law and standards to respect the rights to freedom of assembly and expression by banning the Riga Pride 2006 march. They have compounded this breach by failing to adequately protect the participants in the other events organized by the LGBT community”.

Again Pride events in Poland and infamously Moscow were treated with derision. Pride events have also been hindered, banned or experienced violent protests in other cities such as Belgrade, Chisinau, Bucharest, Zagreb, Krakow, and Poznan. In many cases, politicians and faith organisations have played a major role in inciting hatred and violence towards LGBT people, and far-right groups have been very evident amongst the anti-Pride protestors.

Conference deplores the failure by authorities to uphold the basic human right to freedom of assembly, guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and/or to ensure the safety of participants. Conference welcomes the work undertaken by ILGA-Europe to support the organisation of such events and to bring these issues to the attention of the European Parliament and Commission, and the Council of Europe.

Conference also welcomes the NEC statement on “Attacks on the Right to Freedom of Assembly” to the 2006 national delegate conference, in which the NEC stated that “UNISON, the NEC, the National LGBT Committee and International Committee will continue to work to defend the rights of LGBT people. The right to protest, the right to demonstrate. The right to challenge and agitate for change are basic civil rights. Wherever these rights are under attack UNISON will challenge them.”

Conference instructs the National LGBT Committee to continue this work with the NEC and the International Committee, and its work with ILGA, to ensure that the support of our union is given in the most effective way possible to the continuing struggle against these attacks on basic human rights.”