Huge crowds throng gay parade in Latvia
Riga: Some 5,000 people took to the streets of the Latvian capital for a high-profile gay pride parade, the culminating event of the EuroPride 2015 week which took place here from June 15-20.
Dressed in colourful outfits and costumes, and holding flags and posters calling for the acceptance of different lifestyles, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, as well as their friends and supporters marched through the streets of Riga.
Participants 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 crowd had also gathered to watch the parade, with some shouting their disapproval while others showing their support for the march.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.
Three arrests were made for what police described as minor disturbances of public order. Among those briefly detained was Andris Orols, the leader of a Latvian NGO, which staged a counter-demonstration against the EuroPride 2015 parade.
The parade was joined by many guests from foreign countries as well, notably a number of ambassadors and politicians from European parliament.
(With inputs from agencies)