Thousands take part in Latvian gay pride event
Participants in a gay pride parade carrying a huge rainbow flag, march in Riga, Latvia, Saturday, June 20, 2015. Up to 5,000 people have participated in a high-profile gay pride event in the capital of Latvia, a former Soviet country. (AP /Oksana Dzadan)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, June 20, 2015 1:21PM EDT
RIGA, Latvia -- Up to 5,000 people on Saturday participated in a high-profile gay pride event in the capital of Latvia, a former Soviet country.
Participants in colorful outfits waved rainbow flags and standards from Spain, Britain, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia, among others, as they marched and danced to loud music in central Riga.
The event is aimed at raising awareness of homosexual, bisexual and transgender rights in eastern Europe, where there is marked intolerance of LGBT groups. A 2013 Russian law bans promotion of same-sex values to minors.
Organizer Alexander Ivanajevs said the event shows LGBT people "are similar people to everybody else."
"It's my duty to support them. They are as human as I am," Latvian member of parliament Veiko Spolitis told The Associated Press during the parade.
A few onlookers booed along the route while a small counter-demonstration of up to 30 people held up different signs with anti-LGBT messages.
Police say three people from the counter-demonstration were arrested for trying to throw eggs and for illegal picketing. No other incidents were reported.