The visibility of the gay communities in Northern Europe's three Baltic nations - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania - has increased steadily but surely in recent years. Same-sex activity has been legal in all three countries since the early 1990s, although discrimination and hostility toward GLBT residents is still widespread. One encouraging development has been the celebration of Baltic Gay Pride, which took place in Riga, Latvia last year. This year, Baltic Gay Pride moves to Lithuania's capital city, Vilnius, and will be taking place later than usual this year, on July 27, 2013. In past years, the event has been held in late May or early June.
More on Baltic Gay Pride 2013 in Vilnius will be posted here as details emerge - here's a look back at last year's event, which took place in Riga, Latvia, in the meantime.
A number of cultural and human rights events make up Baltic Pride - here's a program of events, beginning on Wednesday. Presentations include film screenings (which are all free) and art exhibits, and several more gatherings and workshops, touching on everything from "the worst country to be gay" in to a seminar entitled, "Equality, Non-Discrimination and Inclusive policies – European and International Best Practices." Several key speakers are appearing, including Thomas O. Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Ulrike Lunacek, an openly lesbian politician and activist from Austria; and Eric Pineault of Montreal Gay Pride.
Events culminate on Saturday, June 2, with a March for Equality on Gertrudes Street, between Terbatas and Kr.Barona streets, starting at 2 pm and followed by a "Make Some Noise for Human Rights" rally from 2:45 until 6 pm. There are then parties that evening at the festive Riga gay nightclub Golden Bar, at 33 Gertrudes Street, starting at 9 pm.
For more information on gay travel in the Baltic countries, look to PinkBaltics.com, a gay travel company that offers tours in Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius as well as providing excellent information on all three cities on its website. For more on Latvia gay life, check out the Riga Gay Guide at Riga-Life.com, and similarly, the Vilnius Gay Guide at Vilnius-Life.com does a terrific job detailing gay life there, as does the Tallin Gay Guide at Tallin-Life.com.