The Walk with Pride Project
This is a gay issue.
This is a straight issue.
This is a human rights issue.
Walk With Pride (WWP) is a project to photograph and document gay pride parades around the globe. Our aim is to promote pride, empathy, and understanding on an international level, while highlighting the similarities and differences in gay rights and gay culture around the world.
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Tag Archives: Vilnius
We arrived in Vilnius late in the evening on the Wednesday night before the pride parade. It was not an easy trip, as it involved several dashes through the UK airport as we struggled to catch our connecting flight.
The first leg of the trip took us from Kuala Lumpur to London’s Stratford airport, a 13 hour flight. We had 2 hours to make a connecting flight to Vilnius, but huge lines through mandatory UK immigration slowed us down. Three staffers were leisurely checking the passports of several hundred passengers. After an hour of waiting, Chad spoke with a staffer to let us shortcut the rest of the line, which allowed us just enough time to race to the Star1 airport counter for the flight to Lithuania. This was again followed by more check points, security, and trying to make it the correct gate via train. We made the flight, and at 10pm the plane touched down at the Vilnius airport.
We had our first glimpse of the city as we traveled that night by taxi to a guest house near the central train station. The taxi, driven by a young 20-something guy, took us through the old center of town, very quickly as the streets were deserted. Even completely exhausted and jetlagged, the old center of Vilnius looked impressive with huge churches around every corner, and its’ well kept architecture.
The next morning we were able to explore the city further, but it was pretty miserable weather outside – cold and rainy. We also discovered the area seriously lacked places to buy umbrellas. After walking around the city streets for a few hours, we stopped by the Conti Hotel to pick up our registration material for the pride march. Members of the “Baltic Pride 2010” team provided us with materials, and information on the Human Rights conference and LGBT film festival that are also taking place, as well as a safety leaflet with emergency numbers and safety advice for all those attending the pride events.
One of the most central activities of Baltic Pride is the Equality march that takes place on Saturday. The organizers have already overcome many obstacles and hurdles so that they can hold the parade and their battles are not yet over. However, if they are able to hold the march it will be the very first pride parade held in Lithuania.
Facebook has become a new forum for those wishing to show either their opposition or support for this year’s 2010 Baltic Pride Festival in Vilnius. However, this has taken a hateful turn as the Lithuanian Attorney General’s office is now investigating those advocating violence at the march.
“I am for fighting and people supporting it in May 2010” and “I am against homosexualists’ parade in Vilnius in May 2010” are two main groups against the pride march, and contain plenty of threats for violence and harsh sentiments..
On the other side, there are also FB groups starting in support of the march. If you want to show your support, here are some that we’ve found:
In a month and a half from now, the “Walk With Pride” project will travel to Eastern Europe to photograph gay pride marches. Our first stop will be Baltic Pride 2010 in Vilnius, Lithuania (May 8).
Baltic Pride is a joint effort between LGBT organizations in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Last year’s Baltic Pride was held in Riga, and faced serious issues as the Riga City Council revoked permission to march only 2 days before the march was to take place. However, a last minute court injunction the morning before the Saturday march overturned the council’s ban and allowed the pride march to take place. Almost 600 people marched during last year’s Baltic Pride in support of LGBT rights and against discrimination. Around 70 yellow shirted activists from Amnesty International were also among those present. Here’s a video from last year’s march, which you can see as part of the 2010 Pride Parade Calendar.
While this year’s Baltic Pride is scheduled to take place in Vilnius, Lithuania, it is also facing the risk of a government ban. While the organizers have received a permit to hold a peaceful march, legal requests have been made to the Lithuanian Attorney General to cancel Baltic Pride as they say it would violate a new law concerning “Protection of Minors Against Harmful Public Information.“
Unfortunately, the marches held in this region currently face many prejudices, including threats of violence and the risk of cancelation. This makes the strong efforts of the LGBT organizations operating in this area very inspiring as they work under more challenging circumstances.