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Estonia LGBTI film festival sues city for gutting its funding

Estonia LGBTI film festival sues city for gutting its funding

The Tarvas sculpture in Rakvere, Estonia, decorated with a pride flag

A non-profit LGBTI festival in Estonia is suing a city council for cutting its funding by 80%.

SevenBow, the organizers of Festheart LGBTI film festival is suing Rakvere City Council.

The city’s cultural affairs committee endorsed the group’s funding applications.

But the city council cut its funding to just a fifth of the applied sum.

‘Politicians are once again interfering in the funding of culture based on their own prejudices,’ SevenBow spokesperson Keio Soomelt said.

‘Rakvere – gay capital? No, thank you’

This is not the first time the LGBTI film festival has experienced funding issues.

In 2017, members of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) protested against SevenBow.

As councilors decided whether to fund the festival, EKRE members stood outside the Tark Maja with homophobic signs.

‘Rakvere – gay capital? No, thank you,’ one read.

Another said: ‘Indecent exposure is not culture. We do not need gay propaganda.’

EKRE Lääne-Viru area chairman Anti Poolamets said to Postimees: ‘Let them pay their own way.

‘We cannot stand for gay propaganda being switched into second gear, become even more aggressive,’ she added.

‘We are opening Pandora’s box’

Despite the backlash, the cultural affairs committee supported the festival and submitted the application to the council twice.

Ultimately, the council did not fund the festival.

Chairman of the cultural committee Tauno Toompuu said: ‘We are opening Pandora’s box when we start rejecting applications based on specific characteristics.’

Last year, Estonia was ranked 23rd out of 49 European countries for LGBTI rights.

Since 2016, civil partnerships for same-sex couples are legal but couples cannot jointly adopt.

See also

Gay couple win right to be married in Estonia

This year’s Oscars are not as inclusive as you think – least of all Bohemian Rhapsody

Poland and Hungary veto inclusion of LGBTI rights in EU statement