Another week, another controversial parade in Riga.
We’ve already had the Latvian Legionnaires/Waffen SS event and the Victory Day/Glorious Russia event, but it seems Rigans (or at least Riga City Council) view the prospect of a few homosexuals prancing around a park as a much more serious threat to public order than the aforementioned events which attracted fair numbers of neo-Nazis and unreformed Soviet Communists.
First the Baltic Pride event was on (albeit with the proviso that all gays spend most of the day locked into Vermanes Park), then the poor little lambs at the council got worried and decided to ban it – a decision that in a few hours managed to set Latvia’s image in the rest of the world back at least 10 years.
The lily-livered council ruling was overturned one day later at a court hearing that would have been deeply comic were it not so tragic.
Take every stereotype you can think of about backward, parochial, superstitious and intolerant Eastern Europeans, add an unhealthy dash of homophobia and you have what unfolded: a court scene straight from Kusturica featuring a gallery of grotesques, impromtu prayers and threats about suffering the fires of damnation for eternity.
All it required was a group of peasants with flaming torches to burst in and start burning suspected witches at the stake.
If you need one good reason not to vote for Ainars Slesers in the Riga mayoral contest, remember that he is in the same party as the loathsome Janis Smits, a man with the appearance, charm and intellectual depth of a bullfrog that has let itself go a bit.
It was the sickest political joke of the decade when rabid homophobe Smits was made equality minister and no longer weighed down by the need to pretend he’s trying to be fair, he’s become a big, fat rent-a-hate.
Following closely behind him (almost close enough for it to seem like an “immoral act”) is Cardinal Pujats, the top dessicated Catholic in the country.
His sanctimonious opinings about the threat posed to the institution of the family would perhaps carry a little more weight if fewer of his brothers in the cloth had spent their time fiddling with choirboys behind the vestry over the last few decades.
One cannot help but wonder why Smits (whose cross-eyed, flabby visage leads one to assume he is less than a hit with the ladies) and the presumably celibate Pujats are quite as interested as they are in the bedroom doings of consenting adults, and in particular the act of sodomy which they seem to think is all gay men get up to behind closed doors.
What neither Smits, Pujats or any of the other gay-bashers seem to realise is that attendance at the rather modest Baltic Pride event is not compulsory
and that homosexuality itself is not a contagious disease.
If you’re not gay or have no interest in the subject and its surrounding issues of human rights, don’t bother going. If you feel the need to turn up and display to the world how definitely and strongly un-gay you are, that you are 100 per cent macho, perhaps you should consider what exactly you are trying to prove.
At gay parades in the Baltics, it is always funny to see the ranks of shaven-headed, tattooed, moustchioed muscle men and gaudily made up grannies who line the route shouting abuse. In most western countries you would assume these were leather boys and drag queens taking part in the event. If only they had the modicum of sophistication required to understand irony.
Smits and Pujats can rest assured that gays are not attempting to win “converts” or condemn anyone else’s behaviour. They just want to be able to be honest about their identities without the fear of being spat at or beaten up.
All of which means it’s unlikely they are going to kick the door down and summarily execute people or cart families off to Siberia for 20 years, unlike the other groups who’ve recently enjoyed their parades in Riga.