UK embassies fly the rainbow flag to mark Riga and Warsaw Pride days

Source: Official website of the UK embassy in Warsaw, Poland
6 June 2008

British embassy to fly the rainbow flag

UK embassy in warsawThe British Embassy Warsaw flew the rainbow flag alongside the Union Jack this weekend in support of Warsaw Pride 2008. The Pride March, which marks the end of a week of Equality Days in Warsaw, passed the Embassy on the afternoon of Saturday 7 June.

HM Ambassador Ric Todd raised the flag over the British Embassy building on Aleje Ujazdowskie on 6 June. The rainbow flag, which is the international symbol of the LGBT community, will fly until 8am on Monday 9 June.

Ambassador Ric Todd said: “”The UK remains committed to promoting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people overseas. This small gesture is a symbol of the British Embassy’s commitment to equality and acceptance for all. This weekend’s Pride March will be a celebration of diversity in Poland, Europe and beyond. I particularly hope participants travelling from the UK will enjoy the festivities.”

Last month the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed its commitment to engage with foreign governments about the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. It issued an ‘LGBT Toolkit’ to its 261 Embassies, High Commissions and other diplomatic posts.

The kit contains information on the official British policy on gay rights and instructions in how to “provide added value to equality and non-discrimination work.” It covers a wide range of issues, from decriminalisation, sexual health, reproductive rights and health education to bilateral work with other countries.

The document states that LGBT activists are often targets for persecution and that the FCO should ensure these people are “included among human rights defenders concerning whom the UK will lobby and will engage the support of other governments, especially EU members.”


2 June 2008

British Embassy Salutes Riga Gay Pride by Flying the Rainbow Flag

A little piece of UK gay history was made when the British Ambassador to Latvia, Richard Moon, ordered the Rainbow Flag to be flown at the Embassy to mark Riga Pride and Friendship Days.

It is thought that this might be the first occasion that a Rainbow Flag has been flown from a British embassy anywhere in the world.

“The British Government totally supports LGBT rights in Europe and throughout the world,” Moon said as he raised the flag.

“And this support is 24/7, 365 days a year — and not just for Pride.”

UK embassy Riga

There was a high turnout from embassy staff who joined Claire, a lesbian from Brighton, and Liga Klavina, a lesbian athlete who represented Latvia at the Sydney Olympics, for that typically British institution, afternoon tea.

Moon said that the high turnout by staff “underlined the sincerity and degree of support from Embassy staff, both British and Latvian”.

The flag will remain over the Riga Embassy before being taken to Warsaw at the weekend in the hope that it might fly from the British Embassy there for Warsaw Pride on Saturday.

Mozaika, the Riga Pride organizing committee, has received significant support from the British and other Embassies with Ambassadors from UK, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands attending a Pride Reception on Friday.

The idea to fly the flag follows a rumour heard during Riga Pride last year 2007 that a rainbow flag was flying over the British Embassy — a rumor which cannot be verified.

The rumor reached the ears of UK Green Party MEP Carolyn Lucas who wrote to Foreign Secretary David Miliband requesting that the Rainbow Flag should fly from the British Embassy of every capital city in Europe on the day of the capitals’ Prides, especially those in the Eastern European “accesion states” and those places where Prides are under pressure.

UK Ambassador Richard MoonRiga Pride 2008 on Saturday was deemed a success, with the parade held in the historically significant 11 November Embankment, where in 1991, it was the focus of the ‘human chain’ made up of hundreds of thousands calling for freedom from the then Soviet Union.

As many Pride speeches reminded those on 11 November Embankment, this human chain included lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are still waiting for the freedoms that other people now take for granted.


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