Protesters attack worshippers

02 November 2006

TWO PRIESTS and worshippers at the Anglican church in Riga, Latvia, werpelted with eggs and excrement by protesters, after a service to mark thcitys gay and lesbian pride festival on Saturday.

The Bishop in Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, has written to the President othe Latvian Republic, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, questioning the lack of policpresence at the event.

The churchs chaplain, the Revd Dr Juris Calitis, another priest, anworshippers at the service held in St Saviours, Riga, were attacked as theleft the building.

Dr Rowell wrote to the President: "This attack on the clergy, people and SSaviours Church was only possible because of the lack of police presence. . it placed good people, and our building, at severe risk."

After the service, a taxi containing Swedish participants at the festivawas bombarded with eggs and water, and some protesters tried to push it off throad.

The festival, the Riga Pride Parade, was the first of its kind in Latviaand had attracted criticism. The Prime Minister, Aigars Kalvitis, issued statement saying that Riga should "not promote things like that".

The city council of Riga had tried to stop the event, citing fears ohomophobic violence. But a court overturned the ban at the last minute, sayinthat the reasons for it were unjustified.

The Baltic Times reported that police detained 14 people after thprotests. A statement released later by the police said that 13 of thdetainees were facing administrative charges, and criminal proceedings werbeing started against another of those being held.

Festival cancelled. Plans to hold a gay-pride festival iJerusalem have been cancelled, because of the fighting between Israel anHizbollah, Ecumenical News International reported on Wednesday. The organisersaid it was not an appropriate time for celebrations. An agency report statethat Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders had always been united in theiopposition to the proposed event.

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