A lot has happened with Pride in Finland since the LGBTQ movement started to get organised in the 60s. Growing from the “Liberation Day” events in Helsinki to Pride festivals in the mid 90s, held in only one city per year, Finland now has several Pride festivals spread out around the country. Amongst these are Helsinki Pride, the largest Pride festival in Finland, North Pride in Oulu, and Tampere Pride.
Even though Finland is a quite safe country for LGBTQ people, from a global perspective, there are still occasional incidents involving homophobic violence. In 2010 a group of men attacked the Helsinki Pride Parade with pepper spray and tear gas. Three men were indicted for 88 counts of assault, possession of an object or substance which can be used to harm another person, 71 counts of violation against freedom of political action, and prevention of assembly. In the police investigation it became apparent that the attackers had ties to the extreme right neo-nazi movement.
Since the attack the security measures for the parade have been increased, but it has also increased the number of people participating in the parade. The parade has grown from five thousand people who wanted to show their support for LGBTQ rights in 2010 to seven thousand in 2011. The attack was a reminder that LGBTQ rights and the freedom of assembly aren’t to be taken for granted, not in Finland, not anywhere.