Baltics lagging on LGBT rights as Pride Month starts across Europe

Juris Kaža
5 min readJun 5, 2022

Baltics lagging on LGBT rights as Pride Month starts across Europe

While many countries in the European Union (EU) and elsewhere in the world have provided legal registration of same-sex relationships and sometimes even marriage, the Baltic countries, except for Estonia’s partnership law, still lag behind even as many European countries celebrate LGBT Pride month in June.

Latvia’s parliament, the Saeima, for the second time in a week on June 2 blocked a gender-neutral civil union law with an odd alliance of a government coalition member, the National Alliance joining with opposition parties to prevent a quorum on the final vote on the draft law.

The latest variant of a civil partnership law (an idea first proposed in 1997) was introduced by the Minister of Justice Jānis Bordāns and largely backed by his New Conservative Party.

Bordāns said a 2020 Constitutional Court ruling recognizing parental leave rights for the same-sex partner of a woman who gave birth had also created a positive duty for the state to grant legal protection to same-sex families, a viewpoint also backed by Latvia’s President Egils Levits, a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Opponents of the gender-neutral civil union law, including the self-proclaimed social democratic opposition Harmony party simply refused to vote on the final reading of the proposed measure, leaving the 100-member without a 50 -member quorum and throwing the draft law off the agenda.

Harmony, considered pro-Russian, is generally seen as the arch-enemy of the nationalists and, despite getting the largest number of votes in the 2018 parliamentary elections, has never been in government.

Baltic Pride march in Riga in 2018 (photo: Juris Kaža)

Crackpot resolution against Pride backed by 19 lawmakers

At the same session, lawmakers voted against a resolution by 19 parliamentarians, including known anti-vaxxers and deniers of the covid-19 pandemic, demanding that the planned Riga Pride march on June 19 be banned to prevent the possible spread of monkey pox.

While the Latvian parliament may yet meet for a few sessions before its summer vacation and ahead of the October 1 national elections, Latvian LGBT…

Juris Kaža

A freelance journalist based in Riga, Latvia who has covered the country and region for 20 years. Speak native Latvian and English, fluent Swedish and German.