- June 19, 2014
Post submitted by Limor Finkel, Former HRC Global Engagement Program Coordinator
HRC’s Director of Global Engagement, Ty Cobb, joined LGBT advocates from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for Baltic Pride. Cobb spoke at a pre-Pride conference hosted by the Estonian Human Rights Centre on “Equal Treatment: What Role for Civil Society.” He spoke about the growing strength of the equality movement in the United States and focused on the importance of coming out, effective messaging, and building a passionate membership base.
Baltic Pride rotates annually between Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, with this year’s Pride occurring in Tallinn, Estonia. There was much to celebrate in Tallinn, including the recent introduction of a domestic partnership law in the Estonian Parliament. A week of Pride events culminated in an open air concert in the center of Old Town. The concert was well attended and drew in many Estonians and tourists who passed by. A lone anti-LGBT protester sat on the sidelines of the concert with a hand painted banner.
While the situation for LGBT people in the Baltic nations varies considerably, same-sex relationships are not criminal in any of these former Soviet countries. Estonians are optimistic about passage of the recently introduced domestic partnerships law, but Lithuanians are concerned about legislation aimed at silencing and marginalizing the LGBT. Latvia, on the other hand, is gearing up to showcase its capital city, Riga, by hosting the annual International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Europe conference in the fall and Euro Pride next summer.
The U.S. Embassy in Tallinn was a supporter of the pre-Pride conference and Baltic Pride. Deputy Chief of Mission Chever Voltmer provided remarks at the conference on the U.S. Government’s commitment to the human rights of LGBT people.