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International blasts cancellation of Latvian pride

International blasts cancellation of Latvian pride

The human rights organization Amnesty International on Friday blasted Latvian officials for canceling the gay pride celebration in the national capital, Riga, and urged them to reinstate the event.

In a statement, Amnesty International declared that Riga officials claim security threats were the reason for the event's cancellation--scheduled for July 22--are without merit. Amnesty International pointed out that Riga was able to maintain safety during more high-profile events like the 2006 ice hockey world championships.

"The threat of antigay violence is no excuse for the Riga city council to ban the pride march," said Michael Heflin, director of OUTfront, the Amnesty International program on LGBT human rights. "The authorities' responsibility is to allow and protect free speech and demonstrators--not to give in to violent threats."

Amnesty International also claims that canceling Riga pride is in violation of international human rights laws and standards because the country is not respecting the rights to freedom of assembly and expression. The group is urging that the celebration proceed and that Latvia ensure demonstrators are properly protected. (The Advocate)

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