February 15, 2004 – New York Times
H.I.V. Surge Catches Tradition-Bound Estonia Off Guard
by Lizette Alvarez
Tallinn, Estonia – The virus first crept in at the Russian border and, for a time, nobody in Estonia blinked. For more than a decade, beginning in 1988, only a handful of people in Estonia tested positive for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Those who did were easily ignored – young, Russian-speaking heroin users in the country’s depressed northern reaches.
The problem seemed small enough to shrug off. Not any more. Estonia is in the grips of a "concentrated" H.I.V. epidemic among intravenous drug users that has migrated south and west to the country’s graceful medieval capital, Tallinn, and is threatening to spread still wider through unprotected sex. While the absolute numbers are small, the spike in infections has alarmed health officials as Estonia prepares to enter a borderless European Union.
It is also challenging a cosseted, tradition-bound culture – that still blushes at the word condom – to shake off outmoded assumptions about sex, drugs and AIDS. With little preparation, Estonians have been plunged into the fine points of needle exchange programs, methadone treatments, anonymous AIDS testing and protected sex. "It was not proper to even use the word condom less than 10 years ago," said Heli Pallo, who works for the National Institute for Health Development, which oversees the country’s AIDS program. Even today, added her boss, Maarike Harro, the chief of the institute, "In some cases, pharmacy dealers are not selling condoms to young people and are telling them, `Sex is not for you.’ "
While all the Baltic countries, and their other former Soviet neighbors, like Belarus and Ukraine, are grappling with the swift spread of H.I.V., Estonia has the highest rate of infection per person. Nearly 4,000 people out of 1.4 million were known to be carrying the virus in 2003, a number that takes into account only those who have been tested. The vast majority are young – teenagers and people under age 24 – and a good number are prisoners and former prisoners.
Three babies have been born H.I.V.-positive. "The country was caught by surprise," said Kristina Tauts, the director of the development center for the National Institute for Health Development. "Some were talking about how it might happen, but usually it seemed very far off to understand." The sudden rise in H.I.V. cases occurred in 2000, when 390 people tested positive, according to government health statistics.
That total jumped sharply the following year, when the crisis appears to have peaked, with 1,474 more people found to be carrying the virus. With that, the Estonian minister of social affairs declared "a concentrated epidemic" and set about trying to curtail the virus’s spread. The challenges were many. Estonia did not have the necessary cash to combat AIDS; few, if any, places offered anonymous H.I.V. testing; needle exchange programs did not exist; sex education was taboo; AIDS antiviral drug therapy was not readily available.
Some relief came in October in the first chunk of nearly $11 million from the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a windfall that will help the national health institute steer money into pivotal AIDS prevention programs. But getting the government to pay as much attention to social concerns as to economic ones has not been easy, critics say. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Estonia has experienced a relatively smooth economic recovery, embracing American-style policies of low taxation and free markets.
Most people speak English, and many have computers and Internet access at home. But critics say the country has neglected building the sort of social safety net that is common in most of the rest of Europe, particularly among Estonia’s Nordic neighbors, where high taxes and generous benefits, like health care and long maternity leaves, are common. As a result, the underclass – drug addicts, the unemployed, prisoners – do not get the help they need, some say. The number of people testing positive is declining, but still relatively high.
In 2002, 899 new cases were reported; in 2003, it was 840. "The H.I.V. rate is a very serious problem," said Mart Ustav, a professor of microbiology and virology at Tartu University who is working with a Finnish biotechnology company to develop an AIDS vaccine. "And it will be a very serious social problem in 5 or 10 years. It is not only a question of money, it is also a question of how to professionally handle the situation. The government has failed completely in fighting this." Mart Soonik, the director of public relations for the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the government had reacted vigorously to the AIDS threat.
It has increased spending considerably, and created the National Institute for Health Development to coordinate efforts to fight H.I.V.. The epidemic has also forced Estonia to confront the divide between its own people and the country’s Russian-speaking minority, a population that grew out of the Soviet Union’s desire to Russify Estonia. When Estonia became independent in 1991, an estimated third of the population was Russian and ineligible for automatic citizenship. Russians must learn Estonian, a tricky language similar to Finnish, to qualify for citizenship.
Thousands have not done so and say they feel marginalized. "Russian people became a second sort of citizen," said Julia Vinckler, project leader for Convictus, a needle exchange program. But the problem is as much Estonian as Russian, and health officials realize they must connect with the young if they want to stop the spread of the disease. Sex education is now mandatory in most grades, although schools do not regularly distribute condoms.
Commercials warning of the dangers of AIDS have aired on Estonian television. More people are getting tested at the handful of anonymous testing sites around Estonia. "It is difficult to change the way of thinking of the community because when the epidemic started, everyone was talking about how it was a problem of homosexual men, then Russian-speaking, unemployed, IV drug users," said Ms. Pallo, who oversees the government AIDS program. "They thought this problem does not concern us."
August 13,2006 – MosNews
12 Injured as Gay Pride Marchers Attacked in Estonia
Anti-gay protesters armed with stones and sticks attacked a march for homosexual rights in Estonia, injuring around a dozen people in a country that prides itself on its tolerance, organizers said. Around 20 young men attacked the parade as some 500 gay-rights supporters with rainbow-coloured flags made their way through the winding streets of the capital, Tallinn, in Estonia’s third such annual event, according to march officials quoted by AFP.
Parade spokeswoman Lisette Kampus said about 12 people were injured, including a Frenchman who needed to be hospitalized with a head injury. Gay rights activists said they were “in shock at this absolutely unacceptable behavior.” “It’s particularly revolting that the gang, calling themselves Estonian patriots, attacked women demonstrators first. Then they started throwing stones and sticks at everyone,” Kampus told AFP.
She also criticized police. “There were too few police present so they could not really handle the violent attack.” Police said they detained six people for violating public order. Only one person had so far officially complained of being attacked, police spokeswoman Julia Garanzha told AFP. The colorful gay parade set off 20 minutes late after police received a call warning that bombs would explode in Tallinn’s Old Town shortly before the event was to begin. No explosive devices were found.
Marchers carrying rainbow-colored flags, the international banner of gay and lesbian movements, were earlier pelted with eggs as they began making their way through the cobblestoned streets, said Maali Kabin, another spokeswoman for the parade. Dancing to music that blared from loudspeakers, demonstrators carried placards with messages such as “Love Doesn’t Ask About Gender,” “Right to Be What We Are,” “Children of Gays Need Protection Too,” “We Heteros Support Gays,” and “Anarchists Against Homophobia.”
“The aim of our parade is to show that we exist,” Kabin said. “We don’t promote a certain kind of sexual orientation, but we remind people of our right to be equal with everybody else.” Despite calls from some critics to ban the march — the culmination of a week-long gay cultural festival called Tallinn Pride — authorities gave permission for the parade. Two earlier gay pride events held here over the past two years passed without violence. Estonia’s lesbian and gay community has become more visible after the country regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and became a member of the European Union in 2004.
In the run-up to the Tallinn Pride week, organizers said Estonia had proved the most tolerant to homosexuals of the three Baltic states, which include Latvia and Lithuania. “Unfortunately, Estonia is now in line with Latvia and Poland, where gay and lesbian parades have been viciously attacked,” Kampus said. A poll conducted in June showed that one in four Estonians would not want to live next door to a homosexual. ??The survey was commissioned by the Postimees newspaper after the Dutch ambassador to Estonia, Hans Glaubitz, asked to be transferred to another posting, saying his partner — a black, gay male — had been harassed.
A gay parade in neighboring Latvia was banned last month. Alternative gay pride events ended violently with homosexuals, journalists and tourists assaulted and 14 people arrested. ??Hundreds of protesters blockaded gay-rights activists including a Dutch European lawmaker inside a church in central Riga and pelted them with excrement as they left
August 14, 2006 – Interfax
Attack on gay parade in Estonia prompts criminal case
Tallinn, Estonia – The prosecutor’s office of the northern district of Estonia has ordered the police to look into an attack on participants of a gay parade that took place in Tallinn on Saturday. Initially, a case was opened into "violation of public order," the prosecutor’s office told Interfax on Monday.
"However, more information on the incidents was received. Calls for violence and bodily harm, as well as discriminatory statements, were heard directed at the parade participants," the prosecutor’s office said. Thus, according to the police information, stones, eggs and other objects were thrown at participants of the parade. One of the participants, a Spanish citizen, sustained a concussion.
August 15, 2006 – Deutsche Presse-Agentur
A violent attack on a gay-pride parade
Tallinn – A violent attack on a gay-pride parade in the Estonian capital Tallinn took police and organizers by surprise, parade organizers said on Monday. The police acted appropriately, but you can’t do much with two police against thirty attackers. We’re surprised and ashamed how violent the attack was,’ parade spokeswoman Maali Kabin told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. Saturday’s attack by around two dozen Estonian skinheads wielding stones and sticks left several marchers injured, including one Spanish man with head wounds. It is the first time in Tallinn Pride’s three-year history that protests have turned violent.
Nevertheless, police sources stated that they were prepared for trouble and did succeed in quelling the disturbances. ‘The police had prepared a special operation involving both uniformed and plain-clothes officers. Six men were arrested for public-order disturbances and one for drunkenness,’ Tallinn police spokeswoman Julia Garanza told dpa. Parade organizers were also quick to emphasize the positive role played by law-enforcement officers.
‘The police have been supportive, and there has been good cooperation throughout the week of events on gay rights. They’ve acted very professionally,’ Kabin said. Saturday’s attack comes at a time when gay rights are coming into the spotlight across Central and Eastern Europe. In recent months, conservative politicians and far-right extremists have banned or attacked gay-pride parades in Russia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Just three weeks ago, ultra-nationalist and ultra-religious groups in the Latvian capital Riga bombarded gay-pride participants with eggs and excrement, watched by a largely passive police force. The attackers in Tallinn were also ultra-nationalist.
‘The attackers were all young Estonian men, skin-heads. They say they are nationalists and patriots,’ Kabin said. Tallinn had hitherto largely avoided the problems seen in its neighbours. This is seen as being partly thanks to its political elite, whose stance on gay rights has been more tolerant than in Latvia, Lithuania or Poland. ‘One tiny party has been strongly against us, but the others have been tolerant and support an open society,’ Kabin admitted.
Until this weekend, Estonia’s only high-profile brush with homophobia came in June when the Dutch ambassador, who is gay, quit his post following harassment aimed at his partner. Even he, however, was quick to stress the support he had received from officials. ‘We would like to emphasize that the Estonian authorities have always behaved properly,’ Tessa Martens, spokeswoman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry, said.
August 18, 2006 – 24Dash.com
Mayor of London hits out at Gay Pride violence in Eastern Europe
by Ian Morgan
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has hit out at the failure to protect people at a Gay Pride parade in Estonia.
Mr Livingstone says gay people should be protected from homophobic hate, speech and violence.
He said: ‘The failure of the police and political authorities in Tallinn to protect lesbian and gay citizens from violence during this year’s peaceful Gay Pride parade is inexcusable.
At Tallinn Pride 2006 there was a bomb threat and violent protestors injured a dozen people, which is similar to previous years when gay bars received bomb threats and participants were harassed. "Having permitted the parade, and being aware of the potential for violence, Tallinn City Council and the city’s police should have taken all reasonable steps to robustly defend the fundamental human rights of those taking part.
‘I also deplore the violence at Gay Pride events this year in Latvia, Poland, Russia, Moldova and Romania and the encouragement given to right wing extremists by religious and political leaders. I strongly endorse the European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2006 that lesbian and gay people should be protected from homophobic hate speech and violence and treated with "respect, dignity and protection.
18th July 2007 – PinkNews
MEPs to attend Pride in Estonia
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
A year after violent homophobic attacks against Tallinn Pride, organisers have revealed that politicians from across Europe will be turning up this year to show their support. Last year LGBT marchers were attacked with sticks and stones by a group of young Estonian nationalists, while celebrating the country’s gay third pride event. This year’s event, on August 11th, has been beset by problems with policing.
Officials want to change the route of the march through the Old Town, claiming that it will infringe the rights of other Tallinn residents to go about their business. The Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights in the European Parliament has called on the Estonian authorities to facilitate the organisation of Tallinn Pride 2007 in line with the Estonian Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights.
"We remind the authorities, as we did so earlier this year, that it is part of their responsibilities as EU member states to do all they can to facilitate the organisation of these marches in favour of tolerance," said Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup and MEP for the West Midlands. The Human Rights Court in Strasbourg has already ruled that the banning or hindrance of these Pride marches is a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights. We hope the Estonian authorities will bear this in mind when considering whether or not to give the green light to the Talinn Pride organisers," he added.
MPs from Finland and Sweden will join MEPs from the Intergroup at Tallinn Pride. In response to the police attitude towards the march, Pride spokeswoman Lisette Kampus said: "We can not, should not and will not take responsibility for the actions of the people other than the participants. If this year someone from the audience on the streets decides to throw stones, eggs, or hit someone in the parade, they are committing a crime and are therefore subject to a punishment. The police have an obligation to protect the public order and safety of the citizens."
Sophie in’t Veld, Vice-President of the Intergroup, will march in Tallinn Pride.
She commented: "The European Year of Equal Opportunities for All should be seen as an opportunity for all Estonians to better understand what it is to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. If there is one message to be taken from this European Year, it is precisely that these Pride and Equality Marches are themselves the embodiment of a Europe of tolerance and diversity."
31st July 2007 – PinkNews
Police finally authorise Estonian Pride
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
After gay rights advocates protested to Estonia’s President and Prime Minister, police in the capital Tallinn have finally ruled that a Pride march can go ahead. The event, on August 11th, has been beset by problems with policing. Officials wanted to change the route of the march through the Old Town, claiming that it would infringe the rights of other Tallinn residents to go about their business. Last year LGBT marchers were attacked with sticks and stones by a group of young Estonian nationalists while celebrating the country’s gay third Pride event.
The press service of the Estonian police told Interfax earlier this month: "Considering the problems of last year and possible threats involved in holding the event, the prefecture has advised that the organisers should find a place more suitable for it. Since the participants in the parade are many, holding it may disturb the constitutional rights of other citizens to walk the narrow streets of the city." Now Pride organisers have agreed to hire security guards as instructed by the police, despite their assurances that the marchers will not cause trouble and that it is the job of the police to ensure LGBT people’s right to freedom of assembly.
Pride spokeswomen Lisette Kampus commented: "We can not, should not and will not take responsibility for the actions of the people other than the participants. If this year someone from the audience on the streets decides to throw stones, eggs, or hit someone in the parade, they are committing a crime and are therefore subject to a punishment. The police have an obligation to protect the public order and safety of the citizens."
The parade, the grand finale of the week-long gay culture festival, is to be held under the Council of Europe slogan of ALL DIFFERENT, ALL EQUAL. MPs from Finland and Sweden will join MEPs from the European Parliament’s Intergroup at Tallinn Pride. Sophie in’t Veld, Vice-President of the Intergroup, will march. She commented: "The European Year of Equal Opportunities for All should be seen as an opportunity for all Estonians to better understand what it is to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. If there is one message to be taken from this European Year, it is precisely that these Pride and Equality marches are themselves the embodiment of a Europe of tolerance and diversity."
13th August 2007 – PinkNews
Tallinn Pride attracts tourists not violence
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
MEPs and gay rights activists from across Europe joined in this weekend’s Pride celebrations in the Estonian capital Tallinn. 300 people took part in the parade, which snaked through the historic Old Town, among them members of human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the International Gay and Lesbian Association. Last year’s parade was marred by violence. 15 people were injured after being attacked by groups of skinheads with sticks and stones. The Tallinn police had tried to alter the parade route this year, claiming their presence would infringe the rights of other residents to go about their business. However, the route was authorised last month after protests by gay rights activists. Thousands of locals and tourists watched the parade, which was protected by extra police and private security.
This year a small alternative procession chanted ‘No Pride’ as they followed behind the procession, but there was no violence. Last week, Tallinn Pride coordinator Lisette Kampus told the "I really want to believe that this hassle has been put on the organisers of other public events too, and it’s not a question of tolerance or attitude toward Pride events." She said it was incorrect to assume that all of Estonian society is homophobic. "It’s not fair to say they aren’t gay-friendly, they are. The objectors are a small minority who is really radically against gay issues, and they have a very loud voice. What differs us from Western Europe is that, there, society has made it clear that those types of attitudes are not okay. In the Baltics, nobody is reacting against these negative opinions."
This year’s Tallinn Pride coincides with the European Year of Equal Opportunity for All. Estonia has been a member of the EU since 2004. See photos of Tallinn Pride here.
26th November 2007 – PinkNews
HIV infections in Estonia five times Euro average
by Maryam Omidi
Startling new figures reveal that Estonia has the highest rate of new HIV diagnosis in Europe. According to the data, 504 new cases were reported per million inhabitants in 2006 compared to the average rate of new diagnosis across Europe of 111 per million inhabitants. Countries in the European Union have a lower average rate of 67 per million inhabitants. The statistics were released by Zsuzsanna Jakab, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), during a visit to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.
She praised the country’s political commitment to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic. "In response to the high levels of HIV infection being reported, Estonia has launched an ambitious long-term plan for 2006-2015," she said. "The plan includes new initiatives on surveillance, prevention and treatment. We at ECDC are supportive of the work being done by the Estonian government to reverse the trend of increasing HIV infection rates. On behalf of the ECDC, I have pledged to support Estonia in a number of priority areas, including on surveillance, sharing country experiences and providing European guidance on HIV testing."
On a visit to Estonia earlier this year, a team of ECDC experts stressed the need for continued action. The EuroHIV figures also revealed that 86,912 new HIV infections were reported across 50 of the 53 countries of the World Health Organisation European Region in 2006, with 26,220 (30%) of those cases reported in EU countries. The statistics showed that over two thirds of new HIV diagnoses in Europe were reported in the former Soviet Union countries, 41 per cent from females and 27 per cent from young people aged 15-24. The principal cause of HIV transmission was from intravenous drug use, although the number of heterosexually-transmitted cases had increased five-fold since 1999.
In Western Europe, 35 per cent of the cases reported were female and 10 percent from those aged 15-24 years old. The principal cause of transmission was heterosexual, with an estimated 43 per cent of cases originating from countries where the epidemic is widespread, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1999, the number of new HIV diagnoses reported in Western Europe both among heterosexuals and homosexuals has doubled. The ECDC estimates that approximately 30 per cent of those infected with HIV in Europe are unaware that they have the virus.
Tackling this "hidden" epidemic is a major concern for ECDC which hopes to promote higher testing rates across Europe so that those infected with the virus will have access to prevention and treatment services.
20th March 2008 – PinkNews
Two EU cities refuse to sign gay rights appeal
by Tony Grew
The Mayors of Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia have declined to take part in a campaign affirming freedom of assembly and expression for LGBT people in Europe. The Europe branch of the International Gay and Lesbian Association wanted the leaders of those cities to join 19 others in Europe and declare their support for their initiative. The Mayors of Paris, Nicosia, Amsterdam, Winterthur, London, Stockholm, Cologne, Barcelona, Venice, Vienna, Bologna, Manchester, Copenhagen, Budapest, Ljubljana, Zürich, Berlin, Dublin and Luxembourg have all pledged their support.
However Janis Birks, the Mayor of Riga, the scene of violent protests and attacks at a gay Pride event in 2006, said: "The Riga City Council truly supports your initiative, greatly appreciates the actions of the campaign and all the possible positive effects generated by the project" and that the Riga City Council is "very open to deepening and broadening our partnership in concrete initiatives in the years to come."
However, the Riga Mayor concluded: "the decision on the appeal should rather remain an individual competence of each City." Gay campaigners were attacked with eggs and bags of excrement and left feeling under siege by protesters as they aimed to quietly celebrate Riga Pride in 2006. Authorities in the Latvian capital had banned the gay parade on public order grounds, but activists including Outrage’s Peter Tatchell and GayRussia’s Nikolai Alexeyev decided to continue with smaller activities. ILGA-Europe’s campaign on the freedom of assembly and expression for LGBT people caused considerable discussions and media coverage in Estonia.
Edgar Savisaar, the Mayor of Tallinn, stated that as this is an issue of importance from society point of view, and therefore in order to form an opinion on the appeal, he forwarded this appeal to Tallinn City Council’s education and culture commission. Following discussion, the commission decided to advise the Mayor to reply to ILGA-Europe’s letter, explain the "good situation" of minorities in Tallinn and thus justify not signing the petition. The Deputy Mayor, Kaia Jäppinen, noted that this petition and the stand taken towards it, would in no way harm or discredit Tallinn as Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2011. "To connect this petition with culture capital is arbitrary and inappropriate," he said.
In 2006 Tallinn Pride was marred by violence. 15 people were injured after being attacked by groups of skinheads with sticks and stones. The Tallinn police tried to alter the parade route in 2007, claiming their presence would infringe the rights of other residents to go about their business. However, the route was authorised after protests by gay rights activists. Thousands of locals and tourists watched the parade, which was protected by extra police and private security.
December 16, 2008 – PinkNews
First Baltic Pride will be celebrated in Riga next year
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
LGBT organisations from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have announced their plans to hold a joint Pride event next year. Baltic Pride aims to draw attention to the situation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the three EU member states and "encourage people of different sexual orientations to celebrate diversity and Baltic unity." Estonian Gay Youth (EGN), Latvian LGBT group Mozaika and the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) have agreed to organise joint pride events in the Baltic and will begin with Riga next year. The Pride programme will consist of a political discussion on non-discrimination principles in the European Union, seminars, cultural events and a Pride parade.
The festival will run from May 15th to May 17th, the international day against homophobia (IDAHO). Lithuanian gay activist Vladimir Simonko, chairperson of LGL, said it is important to "follow the example of Estonia and Latvia, where Pride parades have already taken place for a few years and the understanding of freedom of assembly and expression has grown bigger than in Lithuania." LGL are planning Baltic Pride in Vilnius in 2010. In August two mayors of Lithuanian cities refused to allow an EU anti-discrimination exhibition on public land.
In a compromise, the touring vehicle, organised by the European Commission, was displayed on private property. The mayor of Vilnius, Juozas Imbrasas, refused to allow the truck into the city claiming that participation of LGBT activists would be "propaganda of homosexuality." Andrius Kupcinskas, Mayor of Kaunas, said that the "homosexual festival may cause many negative emotions." The LGBT community face considerable prejudice in the Baltic states, where the Roman Catholic church and other Christian denominations have considerable political and social influence.
In the run up to this year’s Riga Pride, Cardinal Janis Pujats said homosexuality is against the natural order and, therefore, against the laws of God, and that homosexuals also claim unlawfully to have the rights of a minority. The event in June passed off peacefully. Police arrested four of an estimated 400 anti-gay protesters, but the threats of violence against the Pride march did not materialise. British and Swedish human rights advocates and politicians were among the 300 people who took part in the event. City authorities closed off streets and deployed police to keep the groups apart.
The marchers were taken away in buses at the end of the event. Despite the situation in Latvia and Lithuania, Estonian gays may soon be given new rights. "The Estonian LGBT community is still waiting for the discussion of same-sex partnership to be brought up in the Estonian Parliament,” said Madle Saluveer of EGN. “The partnership law would be the first big step forward in the recognition of LGBT rights in the Baltic states. We would like similar progress to take place in all three countries – after all, we are close neighbours and have in common a wish to develop our democracies.”
In July the Estonian Ministry of Justice confirmed it was preparing a draft law which would allow same-sex partners to register their cohabitation. Amendments to inheritance, property rights and citizenship will be included and unmarried heterosexual couples could also benefit from the draft law. In 2006 Tallinn Pride was marred by violence. 15 people were injured after being attacked by groups of skinheads with sticks and stones. Tallinn police tried to alter the parade route in 2007, claiming their presence would infringe the rights of other residents to go about their business. However, the route was authorised after protests by gay rights activist
2011 March – PubMed.gov
"It would have been impossible before:" reflections on current gay life in estonia.
by Lasala MC, Revere EJ. – School of Social Work, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.
Estonian gays and lesbians currently enjoy more freedom than ever before. However, they still lack many basic legal protections as well an ongoing, organized political movement. The findings of this small, exploratory study along with the personal experiences of the first author, suggests how cultural factors like individualism, a strong preference for privacy, and distrust of the government not only impede political action and community organization but also obstruct empirical investigation.
13 May, 2011 – MSM Global Forum
(Translated from Russian)
Estonian HIV-related stigma and discrimination
The study found that stigma and discrimination among HIV-positive people is shown very acutely. Every second of HIV-positive feel guilty about their HIV status. People living with HIV, insulted, discriminated against, threatened, against people living with HIV use physical and mental abuse. 23% of HIV-positive people have been victims of physical violence. With respect to 26% of all PLHIV spouse or cohabitant to use violence. 8% of HIV-positive people have not received adequate medical care, as followed by the refusal of medical uchrezhdeniy.19% of HIV positive people suffer from hunger 3 or more days a month. 6% of people living with HIV have been denied family planning services. A quarter of people living with HIV decided not to have kids.
Alarming number of HIV-positive people with suicidal thoughts. Internal stigma and psycho-emotional experiences bring to the lives of HIV-positive person changes in behavior, lifestyle and communication. People are making radical changes, isolating themselves from society. 60% feels guilty because of his HIV status, 57% blame themselves, 42% felt shame, 33% of the inherent lack of confidence. 20% blame the other. 10% would like to take their lives, while 10% believe that they should be punished.
According to the chairman of the Estonian Network of PLWH Igor Sobolev, HIV-positive status for many survey respondents is the cause of worries and negative feelings. Internal stigma affects the psychological state of a person living with HIV, more than external. The consequences of stigma are quite serious and heavy. PLHIV are in a situation of strong moral and psychological stress, being exposed to insults, various kinds of hardship and unreasonable restrictions, violation of rights. As a result, they start to feel "not like everyone else" always feel guilty, forced to deny or conceal the fact of illness, fear of "exposure". In such circumstances, it becomes terribly difficult to ask for help from a doctor and begin treatment, it’s only "confirm" the charges of others. Thus the deepening alienation from friends, colleagues, friends and society in general. This leads to a deterioration of quality of life.
View original article here
10 June, 2011 – DzD.ee
Russian to English translation
Public Figures Call for Tolerance Towards Sexual Minorities
41 public figures signed the "Appeal to the happy Estonia" which calls to be tolerant with respect to sexual minorities. Postimees.ee publishes call and list of signatories. Everyone deserves happiness. Sometimes it only takes a caring companion, with whom you can relate their lives to share the joy and anxiety, common house and knowing what each other can be trusted. Some people find happiness and peace of mind with same-sex partner. "People are finding different ways to self-fulfillment and happiness. The fact that they are not on the same road with you, does not mean that they lost their way "- wrote the American writer Jackson Browne.
At no point of intolerance, if it is directed to something independent of human will and does not violate the rights of other members of society for good luck. Inciting anger and violence indicate uncertainty about the individual and society! We strive to ensure that the residents of Estonia were born free and equal human beings and remain so. Nobody can choose their gender, skin color, nationality, parents, and sexual orientation. Instead of getting angry at the inevitable, we should focus on how to build together a society in which all its members would be able to fulfill his dreams of happiness in life!
Now in Estonian legislation there is no legal vacuum in which the reality of existing same-sex relationships are not governed by law and, on this basis, the same-sex couples are not entitled to the rights and duties that involve the relationship. This vacuum must be filled out! Tolerance will create the preconditions for a peaceful and free society. According to a survey Gallup, conducted in 2005-2009, the happiest societies in the world are Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Holland, tolerant towards sexual minorities. Estonia in the ranking is 90th place after Algeria and Somalia, and in front of Myanmar and Bangladesh.
With this letter we express our support for sexual minorities in Estonia, calling for greater openness, tolerance and concern to all of Estonia could have a good and confident to live. We, the people of Estonia, a little, so we need to stick together, support and value every member of society. In this way we contribute to a happier and free Estonia, in which support of the letter is extremely necessary.
07 November 2011 – ERR News
Campaign Fights Against Homophobia
An outdoor media campaign called "Difference Enriches," which takes a stand against homophobia, will be launched on November 8. Sexual orientation is just one aspect of a human being and should not affect anyone’s rights or opportunities to succeed in society, the campaign aims to convey. “Intolerance and homophobia destroy the cohesion of the society and prevent the stable development of Estonia,” said Kari Käsper, project manager.
During the campaign, a number of public figures will speak out on the issue. The project is being organized by the law school at Tallinn University of Technology, and is financed by the European Union’s PROGRESS program and the Ministry of Social Affairs.