Taking Pride

The next few days will see Amnesty’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender campaign go into overdrive.This Saturday is Pride London, where our float will once again be on the streets of the capital highlighting the problems of homophobia in Europe with the help of a Eurovision-style scoreboard. But first up tonight our HQ turns itself over to LGBT rights with a hard-hitting photo exhibition: Hate and Pride in Riga.The photos come courtesy of Reuben Steains, who away from his day job as Amnesty’s Fundraising Innovations Manager is a budding amateur photographer.Reuben was part of Amnesty’s delegation at Riga Pride back in May and his exhibition shows just how bad homophobia is in Latvia.Kristine Garina and Kaspars Zalitis, from the LGBT campaigning group Mozaika, who helped organised this year’s Riga Pride, will also be in attendance tonight.However, top of the bill probably goes to Maris Sants. Maris was one of the first people to come out in Latvia. He’s also a pastor and was excommunicated from his church purely because of his sexuality. He’s already written a great comment piece for Amnesty that will hopefully be running on a couple of sites over the weekend. Here’s a little advanced taster just to get your juices going…

Here’s my plea to the people of Britain: Tomorrow take pride in Pride London. The event will see thousands of people – gay and straight – flock onto the streets of the capital in a joyous celebration of love. The day will be marked by colour, glitz and glamour. It will be a wonderful advert for the tolerant nature of the people of the United Kingdom and will show how far lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights have come.Now that for me is reason enough to install a sense of pride.I should know I’ve seen the other side. I am from Latvia. And two weeks ago I quit my country to move to London.My reasons for leaving were not economic – I was operating a thriving psychotherapy business. Nor were they for family reasons – I am very close to my two children Krisjanis, 19, and Elizabeth, 16, and my ex-wife is my best friend.It was homophobia. I am gay and over the last few years, I have been physically and verbally assaulted many times.

Also today the TUC is holding its annual LGBT conference – and their General Secretary has already made some interesting comments about how best to tackle homophobia. You could read it all here.In the meantime, if you want to come along tonight drop an email to me niall.couper@amnesty.org.uk otherwise I hope to see you on Saturday for Pride London.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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