Civic Space Under Attack In Estonia

Updated: Oct 14

In the last few weeks, we have experienced active attacks against both the Estonian LGBT Association (association) and against the LGBT+ community in Estonia. The purpose of these attacks is to stop the association from proposing projects for public funding, to silence and marginalize the LGBT+ community, and to create a climate of fear among activists and the community. Almost every day, different news channels publish the opinions of the far-right government party EKRE such as “EKRE wants to stop state funding of the LGBT association” or “EKRE: funding the LGBT Association with money from the gambling tax is unlawful”, not to mention the official news channel of the party, where there are many more writings in a much more formidable tone.


Members of EKRE, including the district leaders of Pärnumaa and Saaremaa, ruined an event in Pärnu on 18 October, organized by the association, which aimed to introduce our work to the local community. On 1 November, members of EKRE from Tartu, along with members from Pärnu, held a demonstration against an LGBT+ themed youth center event, intimidating youth workers as well as young people. On top of this, the Foundation for the Protection of Family and Tradition (SAPTK) have started a petition campaign against the association based on misinformation and exaggeration, and the NGO Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut has conducted a survey on the topic of the association’s state funding, with questions based on false claims, which as such is a means of attacking the association. In addition, dangerous lies are spread about transgender youth, as well as diagrams hinting at conspiracy-style connections between activists and state institutions, which create distrust and suspicion.


EKRE is a government party alongside Keskerakond and Isamaa, with Keskerakond being the Prime Minister’s party. The Prime Minister’s reactions on social media to EKRE’s speeches have not changed their position or stopped their attacks. On the contrary, EKRE’s speeches and rhetoric have gotten increasingly more aggressive and the potential of members or supporters of EKRE coming to LGBT+ themed events has spread fear of persecution among the LGBT+ community. In effect, this means that one government party has made it their goal to create a climate of fear and attack people’s sense of safety, while the other two parties let it happen. An attack against one community and NGO is an attack on the safety of our entire society and against the whole of civil society.


We ask you to support our organization by disseminating this information and, if possible, addressing the Prime Minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas with a request for his stance as well as a plea to stop the fear mongering and attacks on the LGBT+ community and the Estonian LGBT Association.

Anti-LGBT+ demonistration in Tartu, 1 Nov 2019. Source: Postimees

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